#Hashtags: What they really mean and how to use them

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Being new to the social media community might confuse you with hashtags (#) flying all over your wall. You will find a friend posting her holiday pictures with #Vacation #BFFs #BestHoliday. Or you might have seen many join in prayer for Nepal with #NepalEarthquake #NepalQuakeRelief.

hashtag

A hashtag (#) is a social media language. This language has become a native of the online way of communication. The fact that the word hashtag is included in the Oxford dictionary and the Scrabble Dictionary, is proof that it is being widely recognized. However, people are aware of this word, most of them do not understand how to use them.

You will find catchy phrases and photo captions preceded by the pound sign (#). That literally means you are tagging your post or picture with a particular topic or thought The hash sign turns any word or group of words, into a searchable link. A hashtag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. This allows you, to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. So, if you wanted to post about the Entourage movie, you would include #entourage, in your status to join the conversation. Click on a hashtag to see other people’s post on the same subject.

 The hashtag was first used on Twitter but is now being used on all other social media platforms. It is used to make searches user- friendly, especially when we have political campaigns, celebrity events or even movie releases for instance. 

hash1You can hate this hashtag language and not use them all together. And after this please bid good bye to your social media life too. If you want to be king on social, you will have to eventually start using hashtags. It is fundamental to your success on social media You cannot run away from it, you cannot ignore it! So why be a laggard! Adapt to this now and you will know it is more fun than you thought!

Here are a few best practices to help you achieve that success:

 DONTs

   #GoldenRules

DOs

Spaces

Thumb rule for using hashtags – Never ever use spaces between two words! The space will result in only tagging the first word in your post! If your hashtag has multiple words, group them together and capitalize the first letter. Eg: #LazySunday or #ThankGodForSmallPleasures. Hashtags are not case sensitive, so your search will not be hampered if you use capital letters. i.e. searching for #LazySunday is same as searching for #lazysunday

Capitals

Punctuation Marks

Numbers are supported, so you can tweet about #T20 or #FastAndFurious6. However, punctuation marks are not allowed, so commas, exclamation marks, question marks, asterisks, ampersands, apostrophes or any other special characters are out.

Numbers

@

If you put an @ symbol before a person’s name, you will tag him directly and the message will directly be sent to him. So if you are tweeting about a person use #xyz and if you want to reach him directly, use @xyz

#

Long Hashtags

Hashtags serve to make your content discoverable to a wide audience. Long hashtags lack readability, are hard to remember and thus not effective – #itsnosintogetsauceonyourchin #spitfirebbqtruck. Use short and clever hasgtags #SpitFireBbqTruck #SaucySin

Short & Clever Hashtags

More Hashtags Than Words

If you feel more hashtags mean more reach and likes, you will only gain the wrong kind of followers— spammers or people only interested in being followed back! It generally dilutes your message and comes off as desperate. Instead focus on being specific to a targeted audience for better engagement

More Words, Less Hashtags

Hashtagging #every #single #word

DO NOT hashtag #every #single #word. Not only is this irritating, but it looks sloppy, unprofessional and gives the appearance that you have no idea what you’re doing. Group small phrases together #EverySingleWord #OneAtATime #BestTimeEver #SeeYouTomorrow

Group Small Phrases Together

Email

Hashtagging one word in the subject line of your email may be effective, but you need to see if the receiver of the mail can relate to that. An older population or someone who is less active on social media will be confused and so it’s probably best to avoid hashtags. Using hashtags in the mail body of your email will prove beneficial for brands (hashtag marketing), to encourage & engage their followers in a discussion.

Social Media Platforms

Hashtag Hijacking

Seeing what is trending and then using those hashtags to join conversations work well only if you are on the same page. Research well and understand the situation in its completeness. Be sure you know what exactly the hashtag trend is referring to before joining in to avoid #EpicFail

Research

There is no correct or wrong list of hashtags. Just put a # symbol before your group of words, to create a hashtag. If yours is the first post in that hashtag, congratulations! You are the inventor of a hashtag!

However, if you really want to be effective when using hashtags, then it’s better to carry out some research to see what’s popular and what’s trending. There are a few sites that you can use to do this; I’ve used hashtagify.me and hashtags.org.

hashtag-loveI see many of my Facebook friends using hashtags for decorative purposes (as seen in the beginning of the article). I urge you all to please read and learn or ask if you do not know! You are making an impression on a wide social media audience by using hashtags. Make sure you’re sharing the best content, and making the right impression.

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