September 17, 2013 9:30 am
A hashtag is a keyword preceded by the hash symbol (#) and linked to a dynamic feed within the social network where it is posted.
Hashtags have become an integral part of the conversation in social media linking one thought to another.
With over 2.5 billion Facebook posts, 400 million tweets and 45 million Instagram posts per day, it’s easy to get lost in the conversation – hashtags allow you to wade through all the information for the topics of most interest.
The first hashtag was introduced in August 2007 by Chris Messina as a way to group individuals into an online chat and keep track of the conversation on Twitter – they are now supported by Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Vine – and have become part of our everyday lives.
The rules can vary slightly from one platform to another yet there are common themes that apply throughout:
- Don’t string too many words together
While certain circumstances might require multiple words (#FirstWorldProblems), the hashtag should be punchy and short; it should be easy to rewrite and repost. If you absolutely must, then make sure you capitalize each word to make it easier on the reader. #ReallyNeedToThinkAboutShorterHashtags
- Don’t tag every word
Tagging every word makes you look like you have nothing better to do with your time and whilst you really don’t, the world doesn’t need to know that. Plus it’s really hard to follow.
- Don’t jump on a trend
Hijacking a trend can have dangerous results if you’re not careful – spreading brand awareness is not worth the fallout of a rogue hashtag. Make sure you’re not just monitoring hashtags, you’re actually following the news. cc CelebBoutique and Kenneth Cole
- Use proper spelling
If you want people to follow the conversation, they have to be able to find it.
Our parting thoughts: Use hashtags as needed and where appropriate and always follow hashtag etiquette, and you’ll be on your way to becoming social media royalty.
This great infographic from Gremlin looks at various social faux pas and how to avoid them. Are you using hashtags properly?