Hashtags are everywhere! You must have surely asked yourself at one point in time: “Well, what is a hashtag?” You cannot possibly ignore their presence while you’re on social media platforms. While scrolling through social media posts, you will come across numerous hashtags. Even if you don’t know what the hashtag symbol stands for, you’ve seen it somewhere or the other. You’ve probably heard of #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter, haven’t you? So, what is a hashtag?
What Is A Hashtag?
When I said hashtags are everywhere, I was quite serious. They are omnipresent and have become an integral part of popular culture. If you didn’t know, the word hashtag has had a place in the iconic Oxford English Dictionary since June 2014.
For your information, the “#” symbol is also called the number symbol or the pound sign in Canada and the USA. In the UK, it’s known as the hash symbol, and hence the name hashtag. When you write a single word or multiple words following the hash (#) or the pound sign on a social media site, it becomes a hashtag.
If you want to reach out to hundreds of people from all over the world, you can use hashtags in your posts on social media. Using hashtags in your posts will help netizens notice them easily.
You are now armed with a proper answer to: “What is a hashtag?”
The video below may also help you in understanding the essentials of hashtags. It will also give you an answer to “What is a hashtag?”
The Origin Of Hashtags
So, when and how did hashtags come into being?
The hashtag was born on the 23rd of August, 2007. The idea of using hashtags was first conceived by Chris Messina, a web marketing specialist. His suggestion about using hashtags was unique. In his opinion, the hash sign could be used to form a cluster of tweets. He was the first one to use the hashtag on Twitter. Thus, the hashtag made its debut on Twitter.
It has been in use ever since and has become an inseparable part of popular culture. It has crossed the threshold of Twitter over the years. It’s not just Twitter users who use it. At present, social media users worldwide use hashtags in their posts on social media sites.
Why Should You Use Hashtags On Social Media Sites?
So far, I have answered a few pertinent questions like: “What is a hashtag?”, “How was the hashtag born?” and “When did the hashtag make its first appearance?”
Now, let me tell you why you should use hashtags. Many people use hashtags in their tweets or on other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and so on. That’s because using hashtags can be helpful for several reasons. It would be best if you used hashtags in your social media posts because of the following reasons:
To Participate In Popular Conversations
You can use hashtags in your tweets, in your Facebook or Instagram posts, and on other platforms like LinkedIn or Pinterest. In doing so, you can participate in popular conversations based on a specific topic.
Suppose people are talking about the latest technical innovation on a particular platform. By using relevant hashtags in your posts, you can get to know the opinions and beliefs of other netizens. You’ll be able to share your knowledge with other users. You can learn things from them too. You may also participate in debates with others.
To Increase Your Social Media Engagement And Attract More Followers
Using hashtags will allow you to reach out to many people. Hashtags let you share your feelings, thoughts, and opinions with others on social media sites. As a result, more and more like-minded people may decide to follow you and even share your posts. This, in turn, will boost your social media engagement.
To Connect With Your Target Audience
Suppose you wish to make a particular group of people aware of a particular issue. It can be a political, environmental, or any other issue. Or you are willing to make your presence felt on social media.
If you relate to any of the above situations, using hashtags will benefit you greatly. Hashtags will make your voice heard, allowing you to connect with your target audience.
As A Means To Build Your Brand
A lot of social media users use hashtags as part of their marketing effort. People who aim to build their brand often use hashtags to reach out to their target audience. You can do the same too. You can promote your business on Instagram, Twitter, or other social media platforms by using hashtags.
To Show Your Solidarity With A Movement Or A Cause
You do remember that I mentioned #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter in the beginning, don’t you? These two popular hashtags succeeded in mobilizing millions across the globe. Many netizens came forward to show their solidarity with these movements by using these hashtags in their posts. You, too, can show your support for a cause or a movement on social media by using hashtags. Know that your support matters, and your voice can bring about a change too.
To Make Your Content Crisp And Concise
On most social media platforms, you need to post crisp content to garner more attention. Besides, some sites impose a character limit on the users for the content they wish to post. For instance, you can use only 280 characters on Twitter.
If you use a hashtag, you’ll be able to present your thoughts, opinions, or ideas crisply. That will help your content gain more attention from other users. Plus, you won’t violate the character limit either.
The Basics Of Using Hashtags On A Social Media Platform
I’ve already answered the most basic question, which is, “What is a hashtag?” But how to hashtag? Let us find that out!
Although there are no strict rules for using hashtags, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before using them. I have listed them in the section that follows:
Put The Hash (#) Before The Word Or Phrase Of Your Choice
A word or phrase preceded by the number sign or the hash (#) makes a hashtag. Sometimes, numbers can be used too, along with words or phrases. What I mean is that you must use the # in the beginning. If you fail to do so, you won’t be able to use a hashtag correctly.
Don’t Use Punctuations, Spaces, Or Any Other Symbol Between The Words or Phrases In Your Hashtag
There should be no spaces or punctuation marks between the words, numbers, or phrases in a hashtag. There must not be any other symbol in the hashtag either.
Your Hashtags Should Be Short
It’s easy to remember short hashtags. It’s hard to remember long hashtags. So, the shorter the hashtag, the better. Try not to use a lot of words in a hashtag. Short hashtags are sweet; the long ones aren’t!
You Can Make Your Own Hashtag But Make Sure It’s Unique
You can create and use a hashtag of your own to make it stand out on social networks. But try and make them relevant. Also, remember to make a unique hashtag.
Refrain From Using A Lot Of Hashtags In Your Post
If you are tempted to use many hashtags together, try and resist the temptation. It isn’t the best practice. Using too many hashtags in a post may cause others to believe that you are a spammer. In doing so, you will leave a bad impression on other users.
You Can Use The Same Hashtag As Another User Or Even Trending Hashtags In Your Posts
It’s not written anywhere that another cannot use the hashtags used by one user. You can use a hashtag used by a different person in your post. In doing so, you can participate in the conversation that other users are having about the topic or idea contained in the hashtag. You can use trending hashtags in your posts too!
Using Hashtags On Different Social Media Platforms
I have dealt with questions like- “What is the purpose of using hashtags?”, “What is a hashtag?” and so on. I will now give you a few tips about how you can use hashtags on some of the most popular platforms.
Using Hashtags On Instagram
Currently, Instagram is one of the most popular social networking sites, especially among youngsters. On this site, you can connect with your followers by putting a few hashtags in your comments. Once you’ve come up with a great caption on Instagram, you may add a few hashtags at the end of it. Plus, you can discover interesting content by looking at the hashtags that are trending.
Also, keep the following things in mind while using hashtags in your Instagram posts and/or comments:
- Putting a couple of hashtags in the first comment under your post will help your followers notice your posts and/or captions easily.
- Do NOT use hashtags in the middle portion of your content, captions, or comments. Instead, add them at the end of comments and captions.
Using Hashtags On Twitter
I’ve already said before that Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags. Just like Instagram, Twitter enjoys a lot of popularity among netizens. About 6 in 10 Twitter account holders are between 34 to 65 years of age. Interesting, right?
Here are a few things you should keep in mind before you tweet:
- It’s better to use not more than 2 hashtags in your tweet.
- You can add hashtags at the beginning, middle, or end of your tweet.
- It’s possible to add hashtags when you retweet other tweets. You can also add them in your comments, replies, and even in your bio.
Using Hashtags On YouTube
If you thought that you couldn’t use hashtags on YouTube, you weren’t right. It is possible to use hashtags on this platform too. If you are planning to start a YouTube channel, do keep the following points in mind before you use hashtags there:
- Using more than 15 hashtags will NOT be a wise thing to do. If you exceed this limit, YouTube may flag your content.
- You can put the hashtags in your video description box and even in the titles of your videos.
Using Hashtags On Facebook
Although Facebook isn’t as popular as other social networking sites currently, people still use it. It is possible to use hashtags on Facebook, and you can use them to put them anywhere in your content. But, not many people use them here. You may add them at the middle, beginning, or at the end of your comments and/or posts. Also, do not add more than 2 hashtags while posting on Facebook.
Using Hashtags On LinkedIn
Hashtags can be used on the abode of professionals too. I meant LinkedIn, of course! On this platform meant for professionals, it is possible to use hashtags. You can place hashtags throughout the entirety of your posts. But make sure to use hashtags that look professional and crisp.
I hope these tips help you to incorporate hashtags in your social media posts correctly. Just remember the fact that you CANNOT use as many hashtags as you want. That is the most important thing to keep in mind if you don’t wish to look like a spammer on social media platforms.
Here is a video you can watch to know more about hashtags on various social networking sites.
Hashtags are indeed a wonder. They let you strike up a conversation with like-minded individuals. A hashtag helps you find people and lets you be found. You can find a lot of content based on the same topic if you search for them on social media. A hashtag will allow you to express yourself crisply and concisely. You can use hashtags to build a brand of your own. Many people use them to promote their business. They are being used for marketing as well.
I hope you can now give a satisfactory and informative answer to anyone asking: ” What is a hashtag?”
If you enjoyed reading it, do give this article a read too!