It appears that Facebook has Twitter #envy.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it is incorporating use of Hashtags into its social media platform. Originally popularized on Twitter, the hashtag has been adopted and utilized by other social networks such as Google+ and Instagram. So on the heels of Facebook’s announcement, let’s take a look at some hashtag basics and how to use them on social media.
What is a Hashtag?
First things first … a hashtag is simply a word or phrase (without spaces) that is preceded by the pound symbol (you know, this thing “#“).
Any word or phrase can be used as a hashtag. For example, Sage Software uses the hashtag #SageToday to connect their community of followers to small business tips and company news.
Hashtags bring the updates, social shares, or tweets of different users together into a single searchable stream. When you incorporate hashtags into your posts, you become part of that larger conversation and potentially expose your message to thousands/millions of other social media users interested in that topic.
How to Use Hashtags
In the example above, simply click on (or search for) #SageToday in your Twitter stream and you’ll see a collection of tweets from Sage and other Twitter users around small business topics and competitive strategies.
Another recent example is the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. By clicking on the hashtag #BostonMarathon, you could see up to the minute news, opinions, and social conversations happening around that tragic event.
By the way … when enough people start talking about the same topic and are using a particular hashtag, that hashtag can show up in the “trends” sidebar on Twitter.
Hashtags Help You Participate and Connect
Hashtags are an easy way to participate and connect with an event, TV show, webcast, or even a tradeshow. Find out what other users are saying about an event by searching for the related hashtag and join the conversation.
A great example of this is #SageSummit - the hashtag used by customers, resellers, Sage employees, and other folks that attended the annual Sage Summit conference.
Because hashtags are organized by topic, people who are perhaps not otherwise directly connected on social media are exposed to each other and may forge new relationships based on their common interest. So if you have a great #marketing article to share be sure to include the hashtag to share it with people interested in marketing around the world.
What to Avoid When Using Hashtags
A lot of people use hashtags to generate visibility around keywords like #ERP #SupplyChain or #DistributionSoftware. But be careful not to overdo your use of hashtags. As with anything else, over-use of hashtags in social media can be downright annoying.
So keep your hashtag use on-point and to a comfortable minimum. There is no hard and fast rule … but as a matter of personal opinion, 3 or more hashtags per post reads like desperate marketing (think “keyword stuffing”) and is a sure way to lose followers quickly and turn off your social community.
How do you plan to use hashtags?
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