what-the-heck-is-a-hashtag-and-why-should-i-care-20-638I am sure you have heard the word but haven’t a clue as to what it means or how to use it. 

Wikipedia defines as a hashtag – a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content.

Users create and use hashtags by placing the hash character (or pound sign) # (also known as number sign or octothorpe) in front of a word or unspaced phrase, either in the main text of a message or at the end. Searching for that hashtag will then present each message that has been tagged with it. A hashtag archive is consequently collected into a single stream under the same hashtag.

Hashtags come in handy when you are posting on Social Media and you want your post to come up when people search for a certain keyword or thought.  If you post your favorite chocolate cake recipe you might use the hashtag #chocolatecake or #bestchocolatecakerecipe.  Now your post will be included with a search of other chocolate cake recipes. 

But with the power of Hashtags comes with great responsibility.   There are some unwritten rules when using hashtags.

  • Keep your Hashtag simple and short.  Don’t use hashtags like #ijustreadthebestarticleeverabouthashtags  I doubt very many people would search for that term.
  • Make sure your hashtag is related to your post.  Don’t use the hashtag #freemoney on your post about your chocolate cake recipe.  We call that SPAM and it’s frowned upon.
  • Don’t use spaces or punctuation in your hashtag.
  • Don’t overuse. Use a maximum of two hashtags in your posts. If you use too many your followers will think you are spamming them.

Here are some of the sites that support hashtags:

Twitter: The network that brought us the hashtag is the most popular site to use it on. You can find the trending topics on the left hand side of your Twitter stream.

Facebook: Clicking a hashtag on Facebook will bring you to a separate page with posts that are visible to you based on the various users’ privacy settings. You will also see the different trending topics in the top right hand corner of your News Feed.

Instagram: Hashtagging on Instagram is great if you want to see photos similar to the ones that you’ve taken. Simply hashtag the picture you took and it will create a link to a page with other pictures of the same subject.

Google+: Google+ uses hashtags similar to the other sites, but with one main difference. Google+ will add hashtags to content if they think that it is a relevant and popular keyword. You can always opt-out of this through Google+ if you’d like.

Tumblr: When you’re creating a post on your Tumblr page, you’ll see an area at the bottom asking you to add “tags.” When you start to type a tag for your post, Tumblr will automatically add a hashtag to the front of it.

Pinterest: The main thing that you need to bear in mind when creating hashtags on Pinterest is that they’re only clickable in a Pin description. Also, hashtags aren’t searchable on Pinterest, so you’ll need to just search the keyword to find the content.

YouTube: Hashtag use within YouTube is most prevalent in the comments section. Users can leave comments with hashtags, which will then click through to a page with videos that contain that hashtag in their title.

Kickstarter: On Kickstarter, sorting by different hashtags can make it easier for you to find projects you’d be interested in investing in.

Vine: As a company owned by the creators of the hashtag, you’d better believe that Vine has included the functionality. As with other sites, adding a link to your Vine’s description will bring you to a page with Vine’s on the same topic.

Now that you know what a hashtag is and where to use it, you are probably wondering why you would bother to include it in your postings.  If you are serious about social media, then using a hashtag reasonably will increase your exposure and grow your audience.  Hashtags also create incentives to categorize and organize you posts making it easier for others to find like content.

ChrisD-11-150x150.jpgChristopher Diamond is the driving force behind CDA Tech Pros (http://cdatechpros.com), a full service computer consulting and support firm in the Phoenix area of Arizona. Christopher honed his skills supporting the IT departments in the entertainment industry in California until he relocated to Mesa, AZ in 2005. He now offers the same corporate grade support to businesses in the Valley with a wide range of services including Consulting, Implementation, & Support for Computers, Servers, & Networks, IT Security Assessments & Solutions as well as Website Development.