Hashtag: A history and its uses

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The hashtag has come a long way, it is used a symbol to replace the word number ie. #1, and to differentiate a sharp note from a normal note. It has been used in coding or as a button on your phone keypad. It has a number of different names from the pound symbol, crosshatch, tictactoe, hak, oof, rake, sink, corridor, crunch, punch mark and now the hashtag. So why is the hashtag so important? For anyone in social media it is a form of metadata tag, which for us normal people means that it is a way for users to find common threads of information. It can be used to group conversations and promote themes.

If you are using Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram (Facebook is still experimenting with hashtags, and a lot of users don't like them, so tread carefully here) you must use hashtags! They are the most effective way for people to find you.

Some hints and tips:

  • Create a few custom hashtags for your brand ie. #brightredmarketing
  • Follow similar users and steal their most commonly used tags, personal trainers have created a new language of tags for the fitness industry, as have a lot of businesses in health and well-being - it's not  stealing you are contributing to the discussion
  • Don't worry about going overboard with hashtags - they rarely interfere with the user who is following you, but they do allow others to find you. (Be warned, hashtags on Facebook have been known to annoy people… so use sparingly)
  • You need to have a space between tags #hello #hashtag works #hello#hashtag not so much

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the mysterious world of hashtags!