If you’re new to social media, hashtags – the words or phrases preceded by a pound sign (#) – may seem confusing. When should you use them? What’s the point? When used effectively, hashtags can be an essential way to participate in social conversations and get valuable insights into what your target market is talking about.
Hashtags are a way to join larger conversations within the social sphere. You can click on a word or phrase with the hashtag symbol in front of it (ex. #Halloween2014) and see all of the posts that include that word or phrase. On some social platforms like Twitter, you can search hashtags to get an idea of what people are saying on that topic. Hashtags are a great way for people to stay up-to-date on current events and issues and connect with other people who are interested in that topic.
While hashtags are a great tool for social conversations, they are sometimes overused and have gotten some negative attention. For an amusing example of hashtag overuse, check out Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s skit here. Businesses and individuals alike want to make sure they are starting or adding to engaging conversations. Here are a few best practices on using hashtags effectively.
- #Don’t #Use #Too #Many #Hashtags. In most cases, you probably don’t need more than 1-2 hashtags in a single post.
- Review before posting for spelling errors.
- Keep it simple. With the “no spaces” rule, overly long hashtags can become hard to read
- Give context. If you post a hashtag like #niceday without some associated text, you aren’t adding much to the conversation.
- Get creative. Hashtags should be fun!