Who Invented hashtags?
The hashtag was invented by Chris Messina in 2007.
Chris Messina is quoted as saying
“I had no interest in making money (directly) off hashtags. They are born of the Internet, and should be owned by no one. The value and satisfaction I derive from seeing my funny little hack used as widely as it is today is valuable enough for me to be relieved that I had the foresight not to try to lock down this stupidly simple but effective idea.”
When many think of hashtags they immediately think of Instagram as the pain platform for using the symbol, however, you can use hashtags across all the social media platforms.
There is a very good documentary about Instagram on the BBC iplayer which is well worth a watch and includes interviews one of which is with Chris Messina. In this documentary, you will hear from those who began Instagram, how it has become so big and how it can have a negative impact on people’s lives.
What Are Hashtags?
Basically, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the octothorpe symbol #.
It helps to define a category or topic related to a post or article, this then allows users and search engines to find relevant information associated with the word or phrase. The idea is when someone searches a particular word or phrase they will be able to discover content, and for those creating the content be able to reach more people.
Because on Social media platforms you are limited on characters for your posts, hashtags are the perfect way to help people understand the context.
How To Use Hashtags
Note: Be aware that some hashtags are very broad, and avoid long complicated ones which cannot be found.
Get In Front Of Your Target Audience
On some platforms, users are able to follow hashtags that are of interest to them, this is a great opportunity for companies to tap into, by using the same hashtag (relevant to your business, of course) your posts will be put in front of those followers.
For example, if you are a travel agency specialising in Spain you would use the hashtags #Travel #Spain for all those who have an interest in travelling to Spain will now see your post (assuming they are following either or both of those hashtags). Of course in my starting line, I warn you of broad hashtags and #travel is one of those that are too general, so you then focus on an area of Spain #andalucia and type of Holiday #camping and your USP #ridingholiday #horses and so forth.. so really look at your content and think about the key areas to pin down the right # for the post.
Of course, once your post has been put in front of a user and that post has been interesting then you may well get a ‘like’, and even better a ‘follow’, and a ‘share’ this then means that any post you place will be seen by this potential client in the future. Furthermore, if you keep your content interesting it won’t be long before you find yourself converting those action points into sales.
What Hashtags Should I use?
There are many ways to find the right hashtags for your content, always have in the forefront of your mind that the # must be relevant to the content you are posting, sounds silly but you would be amazed!
A good place to start is to see what influencers are using within your particular industry, interest, topic, etc… Take a look at influencer marketing for more information on what is meant by influencers.
If you are unsure how to find an influencer I recommend heading over to Buzzumo you are able to put in keywords and find out not only the influencers but on which social media platform they have the most presence, perfect if you are only interested in posting to a certain platform.
Another great way to find the perfect # is to take a look at all-hashtag here you can put in your keyword and this will generate the right hashtags and show you popular trending tags which is an ideal start.
Take a peek at your competition, which hashtags are they using, and how successful has the post been?
TIP: You can also begin to type in your keyword into search on the social media platforms and see what options are given (see image).
How Many To Use
How many hashtags to use really does depend on your content, and which social media platform you are on.
Facebook: recommends using one or a few Facebook & Hashtags
TWITTER: recommends keeping them to a minimum, but you can use as many as you like TWITTER & Hashtags
Instagram: says you can use up to 30 Instagram & Hashtags
All social media platforms will tell you you can use up to x, y and z, however rather than look spammy I would suggest you use 3 – 10 depending on the platform and more importantly on your content, just because you can use loads does not mean you have to. Keep it simple and to the point of the topic and content. Monitor what works for you, adding or removing the tags and seeing the difference will help you in future posts.
Where To Put Them?
So this is an interesting one, where to place your hashtags….. I personally like, if the context allows it, to add the # within the content, so it has context, rather than a long line of #’s along the bottom, or in the comments area. Again it is worth testing your posts to see which gets the best reaction.
Take a look at Social Insiders report to see their findings
We hope this has been helpful and happy hashtagging!