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Over the course of the last few decades a fair few words have been added to the dictionary all thanks to social media, but few have become as widely used and accepted as “hashtag.”
While hashtags were originally made famous by Twitter, they are now used on many major social networks, including Facebook and Instagram. So, with that said let’s explore what a hashtag is, why they are so great, and how they work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
What Does “Hashtag” Mean? – A hashtag to put it simply is known as a keyword phrase, spelled out without spaces, with a pound sign in front of it. For example, #doncasterisgreat or #socialmedia are hashtags.
You can literally put hashtags anywhere in your social media posts: in the beginning, at the end, or anywhere in between. These hashtags tie public conversations from all different users into a single stream, which you can find through searching a hashtag, clicking on one, or using a third-party monitoring tool. Please remember for a post to appear ion someone’s search, the post of course must be public.
What Makes Hashtags So Great? – Back in 2007 when hashtags were a brand-new concept, Google’s Chris Messina realised the value of hashtags right away. He wrote that the channel concept of hashtags satisfies many of the things group discussions do, but without inheriting the unnecessary management cruft that most group systems suffer from.
In addition, Messina wrote that they are easily accessible with the syntax on Twitter as well as other social media networks, easy to learn, flexible, and works with current user behaviour instead of forcing anyone to learn anything radically new. It also works consistently on cell phones – whereas, for example, the star key doesn’t.
A decade later, the hashtag continues to thrive. When used properly, hashtags are a great way for individuals and brands to make their social posts more visible and increase engagement. They can give people useful context and cues for recall, aggregate posts and images together, and update a group of like-minded individuals on certain topics in real time.
Hashtags are often used to unite conversations around things like
Events or conferences
Disasters or emergencies
Holidays or celebrations
Pop Culture topics
The key is to use hashtags sparingly and only when they add value. Use them too much, and they can be confusing, frustrating, and just plain annoying.
How Hashtags Work on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram:
Twitter – A Twitter hashtag ties the conversation of different users into one stream. If Twitter users who aren’t otherwise connected to one another talk about the same topic using a specific hashtag, their tweets will appear in the same stream. A good example of a hashtag stream would be if you type in #MotivationMonday. As you will see when you search it you will see there are a few ways to toggle the hashtag stream: Top, Latest, People, Photos, Videos, and more.
Top – A stream of tweets using that hashtag that have seen the most engagement – which usually means tweets from influential people or brands that have a lot of followers.
Latest – A live stream of the latest tweets from everyone tweeting out that hashtag
People – A list of top Twitter accounts to follow related to the hashtag.
Photos – A collage of photos included in tweets that use the hashtag. When you hover your mouse over a photo you can reply, retweet, or like the tweet with just one click. You can open the tweet by clicking on the photo.
More – A drop-down menu that has a few great options to pick from, including “From people you follow” and “Near you.” You can also save your search here by clicking “Save this search.” To access it later, simply click into the search box on the top right of your Twitter home screen and it will appear as a saved search.
On the left-hand side of the screen on the #MotivationMonday stream, you will find “Related searches.” This is especially useful if you are looking for unofficial hashtags for your own events and campaigns and others.
How to use Hashtags on Twitter – Want to get involved in the conversation, or even start your own? Using a hashtag on Twitter is as simple as publishing a tweet from a public account that includes the hashtag. As long as your account is PUBLIC, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your tweet.
Facebook – Like on Twitter, a Facebook hashtag ties the conversations of different users into one stream. But unlike Twitter and Instagram, where many people have public accounts and their posts can be seen by anyone, most people’s Facebook posts and accounts are private. This means that even if individuals are using hashtags, they aren’t searchable. The result? The hashtags you can search for on Facebook tend to be published by influencers, brands, and publishers, rather than by individuals.
So just search #MotivationMonday into Facebook and you will see a big difference in comparison to the Twitter news feed. Yet again you will see that there are a whole host of ways to toggle the hashtag stream – even more than we have on Twitter: Top, Latest, People, Photos, Videos, Shop, Pages, Places, Groups, Apps, and Events.
Top – A stream of Facebook posts using that hashtag that have seen the most engagement – which usually means post from influential people or brands that have a lot of followers – and your Facebook friends posting using the hashtag.
Latest – A stream of public Facebook posts using the hashtag, usually by influencers, brands, or publishers – like a fitness guru posting an instructional workout video.
People – People on Facebook with a name officially associated with the hashtag. For a hashtag like #MotivationMonday, there are no results here.
Photos – A stream of public Facebook posts using the hashtag that have photos in them.
Videos – A stream of public Facebook posts using that hashtag that have videos in them.
Shop – Pages can now sell their products directly to Facebook users using this feature. For a hashtag like #MotivationMonday, there are no results here.
Pages – This tab shows Facebook Pages that are associated with or posting about the hashtag you have searched for.
Places – Places in the world with a name officially associated with the hashtag. For a hashtag like #MotivationMonday, there are no results here either.
Groups – Groups with a name officially associated with the hashtag
Apps – Facebook apps with a name officially associated with the hashtag.
Events – Facebook events with a name officially associated with the hashtag.
How to use Hashtags on Facebook – To use a hashtag on Facebook, all you have to do is publish a Facebook post to your page or timeline that includes a hashtag.
Be sure your post is public if you want people other than your Facebook friends to be able to find it. To make a Facebook post public, click on the button to the right of “Post” and choose “Public” from the dropdown menu.
Once you publish the post to your Page or timeline, the hashtag becomes a clickable link, which takes folks to the hashtag page.
An Instagram hashtag ties the conversation of different users into one stream, just like on Twitter and Facebook. If Instagram users who aren’t otherwise connected to one another talk about the same topic using a specific hashtag, their posts will appear in the same stream.
Notice the user interface on Instagram’s hashtag stream is much simpler than those on Twitter and Facebook. There are three things you can do from this page: Scroll through related hashtags, look at the top posts, and browse Recent Posts.
Related Hashtags – All related hashtags (like #dontquit, #getmotivated, etc. in this case), which users can scroll through sideways.
Top Posts – The nine posts using that hashtag that have seen the most engagement – which usually means tweets from influential people or brands that have a lot of followers. This is limited to nine posts.
Most Recent – A live stream of Instagram posts from everyone posting that hashtag.
How to use Hashtags on Instagram – Want to get involved in the conversation, or even start your own? Using a hashtag on Instagram is as simple as publishing an Instagram post from a public account that includes the hashtag.
As long as your account is public, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Instagram post. When you write a new post and start typing in a hashtag using the # symbol, Instagram will actually suggest hashtags to you based on their popularity.
So that was our blog on how you can utilise hashtags in your business, we hope this was an informative read and you learnt something from this. If you are in need of social media marketing then don’t hesitate to contact Limitless Digital today.