What Are Hashtags and How Do You Use Them?

As a business owner, you probably promote your work on social media. To get the most out of your social media posts, include hashtags. But what are hashtags, and what are they used for?

What are hashtags?

While reading social media posts or tweets, do you notice pound signs followed by strings of words stuck on the endings? Those are hashtags.

According to WIRED, hashtags were created in 2007 to help filter and organize Twitter conversations.

What are hashtags used for?

Hashtags are used on social media platforms to sort posts into larger conversations that anyone can follow or contribute to. They help filter streams of posts or information from a wide variety of sources into digestible stories.

Hashtags can be used to categorize places, conferences, news stories, cultural movements, and for uniting human experiences. For example, when the solar eclipse occurred in North America last August, people shared their experiences by using the hashtag #Eclipse2017. This allowed anyone interested in keeping tabs on the news to sort through all posts that included the hashtag.

How do hashtags work on social media?

By including a hashtag within a public social media post, you automatically enter it into the results for anyone keeping tabs on a particular conversation.

It is important to use hashtags with respect to the particular social channel you’re on. According to Social Media Today, using hashtags within Facebook posts may actually prevent you from appearing in search results.

On the other end of the spectrum is Instagram, where you should use as many relevant hashtags as possible. The new 280-character limit on Twitter allows space for more hashtags, but it’s a best practice to stick with 2-3 to ensure you’re not diminishing the quality of your post.

Hashtags are also searchable through the WordPress.com Reader. By including them in your WordPress.com posts, you can potentially increase your site or blog traffic.

How can hashtags work for you?

Every industry has its own relevant hashtags. A great way to determine which hashtags relate to your business is by learning which ones your competitors use. Perhaps restaurant owners use #FarmToTable or #Open24Hours. Remember, the point of a hashtag is to become part of a larger conversation, so you should avoid creating ones that are not widely used or searched for.

By assigning relevant hashtags to your social media posts, you can attract new fans and followers and, hopefully, new business.

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Bridget M Burns

I live in a renovated barn with my husband, two kittens, and a baby on the way. I am currently building my business as a freelance writer, and stay busy finding new ways to promote my work online. In my free time, I enjoy reading, cooking, exploring, and late night games of Scrabble with friends.

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