In 2010, the word “hashtag” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. In 2014, it was added to the Scrabble Dictionary. #Honestly. But what is a hashtag? And how can it be used to benefit your business’s use of social media? Here are the ins and outs of the #.
What is a #hashtag?
Simply put, it’s a keyword phrase, spelt without spaces and with a # before it. A couple of popular ones include #ThrowbackThursday or #POTD (photo of the day).
These can be entered anywhere on your social media post, allowing content to be searchable if entered in the public domain – as opposed to a private message or DM.
By tapping on the hashtagged words, you can see further posts which include that hashtag. These help your tweets to be shown more easily in Twitter searches.
FYI: punctuation marks, asterisks, ampersands or any other special characters won’t work in hashtags, but numbers will.
Why use hashtags?
Hashtags can allow for brand awareness, and can help businesses craft their voice. For example, the North Devon Marketing Bureau uses the hashtag #LoveNorthDevon in public posts, and also encourage others to use the hashtag to allow their content to be shared.
They also allow posts to be seen further afield – so if you’re tweeting about the latest hit film, and decide to hashtag it, your tweet could end up being seen by thousands.
The use of relevant hashtags, such as #MondayMotivation, or even keywords like #ManchesterUnited can help tweets be seen by a larger audience and can help increase brand awareness and audience growth.
When should hashtags be used?
On Twitter, two is said to be the most you should use in any one tweet, but good use of hashtagging a keyword will allow your posts to be seen wider.
With Facebook posts, though, people rarely search hashtags like they do Twitter. It’s best to hashtag on Facebook when using campaigns – i.e. #FizzFriday for drinks deals at a bar.
On Instagram, the more hashtags, the further your image will reach – just make sure they are relevant to the post. You can use up to 30 tags on an Instagram post, but too many can look spammy – especially if irrelevant!
Pinterest is slightly different in that hashtags in account descriptions, board titles, board descriptions or profile names aren’t clickable. The only place you can click and search hashtags are in a Pin’s description.
On the other hand, you can narrow hashtag search results to show solely boards, meaning you can find fantastic – and relevant! – Pinterest boards.
Ideally, hashtags are used to unite conversations, and this can include things such as, but not limited to:
Entertainment events, i.e. #FIFAWorldCup
World events, i.e. #JeSuisCharlie
Holidays or celebrations, i.e. #NationalPuppyDay
Cultural topics, i.e. #GameOfThrones
Popular hashtags, i.e. #ThrowbackThursday
Competitions, i.e. #BagGiveawayUK
A good use of hashtagging:
Coca Cola’s #ShareaCoke is a great example of using hashtags originally, and it remains one of the most visible hashtag campaigns in recent times.
The campaign, which ran during 2014 and saw names being printed on bottles, led to 28% more customers compared to the same period in 2013.
Not only that, but it inspired around half a million posts using the tag, and the event inspired Twitter’s first paid brand emoji – aka, a “hashflag”.
More than 170,000 uses of the hashflag (two bottles toasting, shown below) were recorded in the first 24 hours… not bad, huh?
A bad (and ugly) use, too:
One of the biggest “fails” in recent memory came when Britain’s Got Talent winner Susan Boyle was releasing her debut album.
Naturally, she was going to throw a party to celebrate the momentous occasion – but her PR team didn’t exactly think through the hashtag they used.
#susanalbumparty would have looked a lot better with capital letters in certain places, but at least it got Susan some publicity; right?
We do, however, have that mishap to thank for Iceland’s latest publicity stunt – the #deeppanalbumparty
Last month the supermarket celebrated Ed Sheeran’s latest release by releasing their own album – of ‘deep pan’ pizzas.
And, as you can see below, the original tweet was retweeted more than 10,000 times – a fantastic, inventive and brave way to get the business’ name out there.
— Iceland Foods ❄️ (@IcelandFoods) March 15, 2017
In summary, through good use of hashtags, you can generate buzz, keep on top of trends and consolidate your tweets – allowing users to find all of your tweets in one place.
By ensuring you are following Twitter’s list of best practice for using hashtags – be specific, keep it simple and give context – your hashtags will help spread you far and wide.
However, if you’re still not sure about all this hashtagging malarkey, we’d love to chat. Feel free to get in contact with us today.
Author: Simon Lockyer
A fully trained journalist, Simon both creates and interacts with content created for our clients here at BlueFrog Media. He has combined his experience in social media journalism and creative writing to help create original and interesting blog posts, increasing a number of clients’ nationwide exposure.