I was a teacher for years. Back somewhere in 2010, I used # to denote the numbers of the problems I wanted my students to work on. One student raised his hand to ask me why
I was using a hashtag on the board. To really mess with him, I told him it was actually called a pound sign.
Hashtags came about in 2007, and now in 2020, one can barely read a social media post without one.
What is a hashtag?
The hashtag makes posts searchable. If you go on to Instagram and in the search bar put: #dogsofinstagram, you will find awesome posts with pictures of dogs-but only if the creator of that post used #dogsofinstagram.
Another very popular hashtag is, #tbt. This stands for Throwback Thursday. People will post old pics on Thursdays. I am not sure why anyone would search this, but maybe that is not the purpose of that hashtag. Maybe the purpose here is to inspire joining or community.
Hashtags are most useful on Instragram and Twitter. While people use them on Facebook, they do not seem to be as relevant or critical.
Do I have to use #?
No. Unless you want people other than your followers on these platforms to be able to find your business.
People follow hashtags. No, seriously they do. If it wasn’t obvious from above, I follow #dogsofinstagram. It makes me happy to be scrolling through and seeing pics of adorable dogs. I follow other hashtags as well, especially those relevant to my business.
Let’s break this down into 2 parts.
Why you should use hashtags and why you should follow hashtags.
You should use hashtags because people follow certain hashtags and people use hashtags to search for content.
When users add a # to their post, both Instagram and Twitter will show them how many users use that post. This is helpful to businesses because it can show them what exposure they will get.
I have a 30 year old friend who was having hip surgery. Through Instagram, she found a network of people and businesses that supported, guided and advised people having their hip replaced. She did this by searching hashtags.
Businesses who use hashtags make themselves more visible.
Some great advice I received regarding use of hashtags for businesses:
Create 3 sets of hashtags and save them somewhere so when you go to make a post, you can quickly apply a set of hashtags that have been well thought out and researched. It is a time suck to sit there during each post and think of what hashtags to use.
Here is an example of 2 sets of hashtags for a party planning business
If these sets are saved soemwhere, all this wedding planner needs to do after they make a post, is decide which set works for the post and copy and paste it to the bottom of the post.
This makes the post findable for people in the New York City area who are using hashtags to search for an event planner. Obviously people from Kansas who are looking for party decor ideas may stumble upon this event planner. There is no harm in that. In fact, if this party planner has a good page with relevant ideas and information, they may have just gotten a new follow. They will not get business from that follower most likely, but more followers make a page more visible!!
Why search using hashtags?
And do not just search, follow hashtags too. Following and searching hashtags is a great way to do market research. What are people in the industry doing and saying? These are your competitors? What are customers and potential customers saying about the industry. This is a great way to get feedback. Follow your own hashtag--what are people saying about your specific brand? There is a name for this in digital marketing, it is called Social Listening.