While some of us use hashtags as naturally and frequently as Lindsay Lohan runs in with the law, many of us still are scratching our heads at the funny pound signs that just keep showing up. So what exactly are they and how are you supposed to use them?
What is a hashtag?
The hashtag (#) is used to highlight keywords or phrases mainly on Twitter, but hashtags can also be seen on Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube, and Pinterest. It makes the Tweet (or post) more searchable and allows interested Twitter users to follow the conversation surrounding specific topics.
How do I know which words to hashtag?
Hashtags are used to call attention to specific words or phrases within a Tweet that the Twitter user wants to highlight.
Example Tweet without hashtags: Great blog on how to use hashtags.
Example Tweet with hashtags: Great #blog on how to use #hashtags.
It is always a good idea to run a Twitter search of the hashtag to see how popular it is and to see what type of conversation is surrounding the term before using it in a Tweet. This is done to ensure the hashtag is used within context and has a presence on Twitter.
How long should a hashtag be?
A hashtag does not include spaces or symbols (with the exception of # at the beginning), and often includes more than one word. Because of this, it is typically a bad idea to use extremely long hashtags with more than three words. It is important that a hashtag be easy to read, so often capital letters are used to separate words.
Often separating a hashtag into multiple hashtags will increase your Tweet’s searchability within Twitter.
Example: Using #SocialMedia #Marketing instead of #SocialMediaMarketing
How many hashtags can I use in one Tweet?
Two hashtags per Tweet is a good rule to follow. A hashtag-heavy Tweet can be annoying to the recipient and decreases readability.
How can hashtags be used within a campaign?
Hashtags can be unique to a company or campaign. When running an advertising campaign, it can be beneficial to the campaign to include a unique hashtag that Twitter users can search to find more information. They can also join the conversation by using the hashtag within their own Tweets. Hashtags can be promoted on print material as well as online assets and are an excellent option for an integrated marketing campaign.
Now that you’re a hashtag pro you can go conquer the Twitter world! Just promise us to leave Lindsay out of it.