What Are Hashtags and How Do We Use Them?

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Hashtags have gained popularity over the years with many social networking and social media marketing sites including Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Instagram. Now, with the hashtags recently being implemented on Facebook, many business owners are trying to understand exactly what the hashtag is and how to use it in regards to their business.

#WhatAreHashtags ?

Hash SymbolNowadays, many business owners are asking themselves, “What are hashtags?” A hashtag is a keyword prefixed with the hash or # symbol. Simply put, a hashtag is a way to create a quick category or grouping with a simple word. By creating a hashtag to go along with your post—whether within the body of the text or directly preceding the text—you are categorizing your post to be viewed by anyone else who clicks on the hashtag. For instance, if you write an article, tweet, or Facebook post regarding New York cuisine, you may end your post with #NewYork #Restaurants.

Originally gaining popularity through Twitter and Tumblr, hashtags have been gaining steady momentum since they were introduced and have now forced themselves in to popular culture, advertising, marketing, and all forms of social media.

While there are many different uses for them depending on what you are trying to accomplish, RadiumOne conducted a hashtag-specific survey which pointed out that there are a few important things for business owners to remember when it comes to utilizing hashtags to promote and market their business:

Promotional Discounts or Perks: 51% of those surveyed responded that they would be more willing to share a company’s hashtag if they were awarded discounts or chances at prizes. This could theoretically amount for a huge increase in traffic and customers, especially for small businesses if they added the hashtag of their companies name to the end of a blogpost, tweet, or Facebook post, e.g. #HyperlinksMedia. Likewise, from the business owners’ perspective, this could allow for an easy way to track promotion activities for businesses online.

User Preferences: One aspect of their study concluded that 43% of users find hashtags useful. Likewise, they noted that while 24.8% of hashtag users only use hashtags in their post if they are relevant, a whopping 41.8% click on a hashtag to explore new content. One perk that comes along with these numbers is the fact that, while a hypertext including URL generally brings the visitor or prospective client merely to the company’s website, hashtags allow people to use in social media conversation, driving up online promotions.

Mobile Device vs. Standard Computer: An interesting fact about the survey discovered that a staggering 70.5% of hashtag users are utilizing them on their mobile device, while 29.5% use them on a standard computer. Not only could this be a sign for more business owners to develop mobile sites, but it also shows the importance of marketing on social networking sites available through mobile carriers such as Facebook and twitter.

Some important suggestions in regard to using hashtags:

It’s best not to overload your post with too many hashtags, the recommended amount would be 1-3 per post, otherwise your post could re-direct to too many categories and searches at once. Also try not to add more than three words to a specific hashtag, limiting your hashtag word count to 1-3 also helps readability and promotional use. You should note however, that hashtags only register as one word, so if you are adding multiple words to one hashtag, there cannot be a space between them, for example #IamHungry would be acceptable but #I am hunger, would only register as #I.

Always make sure the hashtag is relevant to the post. A good example of this would be a Twitter post that looks like, “The game last night was crazy #heat #spurs,” “I just made a delicious meal! #cooking,” or “Visit our website for a free quote and promotional offer today! #HyperlinksMedia ”

The hashtag has become a new, exciting, and innovative form of social marketing and online promotions, but be sure to use them correctly, wisely, and not in an overabundance. If you follow the above steps and suggestions, you could be on your way to driving up online traffic and promotions activities for your business today!