The first use of a hashtag in social media can be traced back to mid-2007 when Chris Messina introduced a hashtag on Twitter.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
Since its introduction in late August 2007, the hashtag has emerged as the most popular means of categorizing social media content around a common theme or interest.
Once known only as your phone’s pound sign, the hashtag now has a place on many of the world’s most popular social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, and Pinterest. In fact, the hashtag has become so widely recognized that it was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2010, and included in the Scrabble Dictionary in 2014.
The hashtag has emerged as the most popular means of categorizing social media content around a common theme or interest.
When selecting a hashtag for your social media marketing campaign, it is important to choose one that is:
Keep your hashtag short. Hashtags are intended to make things easier to find and interact with. Do not confuse your audience by introducing a long hashtag that is a challenge to decipher and/or remember. Although there is no industry standard the guiding principle is “the shorter the better.”
The more specific you get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be. This is important because a targeted audience generally means better engagement.
Applying relevant hashtags to your posts will help you attract new, like-minded followers who are genuinely interested in your content. After-all, if the audience is inspired by what you deliver, it is much more likely that they will continue engaging (liking and commenting) with your posts. Tweets that appropriately use hashtags get at least two-times more engagement than posts without, and will help you attract new followers who are searching for those topics.
Consider creating a hashtag campaign that will be easily recognizable by your followers. To achieve this, you must choose a hashtag that is immediately identifiable by your audience as being closely related to your business/brand; for example: #WealChat, and #WealWisdom.
When including hashtags in your posts, it is recommended that you keep them to a minimum. Although adding 1 or 2 hashtags to your post will get you up to 21% more engagement, including more than two hashtags has shown to reduce engagement by an average of 17%.
Sometimes hashtags are used as an aside. These are extra bits of insight or afterthoughts, sometimes called sentiment-based keywords, that are added to express feelings or make an additional comment. In this aspect, hashtags are a great way to personify your posts and show your personality.
Hashtags provide a great opportunity to research your audience and your competition. They allow you to monitor the conversation, measure positive, neutral, and/or negative consumer sentiment.
To get an accurate understanding of consumer opinion in the marketplace, you should monitor:
- Your brand-related hashtags.
- Your Competitors’ brand-related hashtags.
- Chat hashtags relevant to your industry and audience.
- Industry-related event hashtags
Actively participating in Twitter chats that utilize an established hashtag, particularly one that is closely related to your brand, products, and/or services, is a recommended strategy for discovering consumers to engage with.
You will discover that the environment within a Twitter chat is very positive, and the contributions from participants are insightful, thoughtful, and valuable. Take this opportunity to establish new relationships and build your audience.
Businesses, brands, professionals, and organizations have enjoy much success using hashtags for fun communication, increasing reach, and for monitoring social channels.
Make the effort to use your hashtags to convey emotion and deliver additional insight. This will personify your posts and encourage a deeper understanding of your message.
Providing genuine value to a hashtag focused conversation, whether it be through personal insight or experience, will inspire others to engage with your contributions. Use this opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who can relate to you and your brand.
Monitoring hashtags can reveal what your audiences say and think about your products/services, and help you to gain a better understanding of how people perceive your brand.
This information can be used to generate ideas for content, based on people’s opinions, pain-points, and comments, and can provide the foundation for developing ideas that will improve your products or services.