A Guide to Hashtagging on Social Media

Caitlyn Kneafsey

December 30, 2014

A Guide to Hashtagging on Social Media

It’s safe to say the pound symbol (#) has made its comeback. Instead of just being a button on a telephone, the pound sign is now commonly referred to as the hashtag. Whether you see it on social media or hear it on television, hashtags are common in today’s language.  You can even find the definition of a hashtag in the Oxford Dictionary.

What is a hashtag?

On a basic level, a hashtag is a way to search for related topics on social media. Almost every social media website uses hashtags to make it easier for users not only to find people with common interests, but also to learn about current events and breaking news around the world.  For example, the Sons of Anarchy series finale happened on December 9. If you were on Twitter, Facebook, or even Tumblr, you might have seen hashtags such as: #SOA, #FinalRide, #SOAFinale or #RipJaxTeller. All of these hashtags allowed users to easily find a conversation about the finale and connect with others to talk about it.

Why is a hashtag important for business?

The hashtag is a major factor in the rapid growth of social media.It officially debuted on social media in 2007 on Twitter. Since then, the hashtag has been widely adopted by other social media platforms and used to give targeted messages to users.

While hashtags are great for communication, it is also a great business and marketing tool. Brands all around the world may have hashtags to represent their company or a specific campaign. Coca-Cola, Walmart, and even Mashable use hashtags to connect with their followers and customers. Hashtags increase brand awareness and help users engage with  companys’ campaigns.

Of course, understanding hashtags and using them are two completely different things. Here are some key tips to keep in mind when you use hashtags for your business:

  • When creating a brand hashtag, keep it simple but unique so your business can stand out from others. Keep your hashtag short, sweet and easy to spell. Also, the hashtag doesn’t have to be your company’s name. Something associated with what your company does or is known for would better appeal to customers who are already bombarded with self-promoting brands. For example, KitKat created the hashtag #HaveABreak,  because it’s associated with their brand and slogan.
  • Make a social hashtag board to keep up with hashtags you want to follow: #Marketing, #sales, #YourCompanyName, etc. This will allow you to see what people are saying about your business or topics you’re interested in. One website where you can track your online presence is HootSuite.com. You can also track popular hashtags on websites such as: Hashtags.org, Tagboard.com, Whatthetrend.com, Keyhole.com and even Twitter.com.
  • #Every #word #does #not #need #to #be #hashtagged. Including too many hashtags causes less interaction with your followers. Buddy Media, a social media marketing platform, did a study on the use of hashtags and discovered that tweets containing more than 2 hashtags went down in user engagement by 17 percent.
  • Social media is meant to be fun as well as informative, so take time to talk with your followers. Maybe even do a #FollowFriday or #FF! This will allow you to better understand your audience and get real feedback on your products or services. It also makes users feel special when their favorite brands notice them.
  • Join the conversation! During the day, there are many trending topics that you can track by city, country, or even worldwide. Participating in topic conversatinos that relate to your audience allows you to engage them more, as well as reach  new audiences. For example, during the Super Bowl, companies using #SuperBowl can reach audiences around the world that are following that hashtag.

Don’t fear hashtags! Hashtags can be a powerful marketing tool that allows you to create a brand voice for your business and reach your audience on a personal level.

Caitlyn Kneafsey

This article was published by Caitlyn Kneafsey.

Caitlyn is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Hudson. She earned a B.A. in Visual Communication with a Concentration in Photography from  the Savannah College of Art and Design. Caitlyn creates blogs, social media posts and images for clients. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and watching a football or hockey game (New Orleans Saints and New Jersey Devils preferably). One little known fact is that she has been to 32 states by car and hopes to visit all the other states (except for Hawaii) by car too!