I never understood the purpose of a hashtag, and in fact, still call it a pound sign. Throw in a different name and all bets are off that the majority of people, especially those social media novices who are not considered “Digital Natives”, understand not only when to use it but how.
When I started using Instagram I would, like many, use the hashtag as a fun way to add a snarky comment to my picture as a pseudo side note or quirky add on. This drove my husband NUTS. He kept saying to me, “Why don’t you use hashtags properly?”
Simple. I didn’t know how or why. Well, after a quick 5 minute lesson, I now not only understand their value, but I love every aspect of what they bring to social media; organization, business marketing and a common language.
Here is a crash course in “How to #Hashtag”:
What is a hashtag?
In a nutshell, hashtags are used to group interests, discussion topics or certain types of content into searchable links based on the keywords used. For instance, if you wanted to post about what a great time you were having at Universal Studios, you would hashtag #UniversalMoments (the official hashtag of Universal Studios) in your tweet or Instagram caption. You could then click on the hashtag to see all of the posts that mention the same subject in real time. As a rule, hashtags should be between 1-3 words. #thisisnotagoodhashtag
When should I use a hashtag?
Weddings, special events, and while traveling are my big hashtag opportunities. By using the same hashtag at weddings, birthdays, pub crawls, sports games, etc, you can quickly see all of the photos taken by everybody there (assuming the same hashtag was used). For instance, at my friend’s wedding last year we had the hashtag #tullerwedding and wrote it on the guestbook so everyone would know what hashtag to use. Once the photos started showing up on Instagram with that hashtag, I could click on the link and see a huge collection of everybody’s pictures from that night. Instead of searching though each person’s individual IG (Instagram) account, the collection, thanks to a common hashtag, is compiled for you.
While I am traveling I am always using the hashtag of the name of the city or area to see quickly what else is going on around the city in real time. Using hashtags in the search bar has helped us find many small community events and/or restaurants that we would have otherwise not known about.
What characters can be included in a hashtag?
Spaces and punctuation marks are a big no no in hashtags, but capital letters and numbers are fine. Please also know that the @ symbol does something completely different. The @ is used to mention you in a comment and connect a person to your personal account instead of a query search.
Can I use hashtags for personal use?
Absolutely! Many people have the misconception that hashtags are only for marketing or large group/event purposes. On the contrary, hashtags can be a great way to organize your personal photos into different “albums” if you will.
I have a hashtag for my son and daughter. Whenever I am posting a picture of my daughter I use the hashtag #hiltycatherine. Because this name is unique, I don’t need to add our last name (if you are using a more common name you may need to add a last name in order for the strand to only include your photos and not anybody else) and I can simply search for or click on that hashtag to see only her pictures instead of my entire feed.
This is a quick and convenient way to organize certain groups of photos that you can access with just a few steps.
Remember, be specific and don’t overuse them; when used properly, they can be an amazing and quick resource for every social media need.