When signing on a Go-To meeting yesterday, I was prompted to enter my pin and then hit the pound or "hash" sign. This made me chuckle amused at how much hashtags have become integrated into our daily lives. That being said, so many people misuse that little tic-tac-toe game board. So here's my hash out of just how to hashtag. #LamePunIntended Hashtags recently made their way, officially, onto Facebook. Along with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Vine also make use of live hashtag links.
No matter what platform you're using, there are a few things you need to understand.
First off, the purpose of a hashtag is to categorize information. When putting the "#" symbol in front of a topic on one of these major social media platforms, it makes that word into a link where you can find all kinds of other posts with that same hashtag.
Now that we have that down, here are some guidelines to follow when learning how to hashtag:
1. Do some research.
If you have a headline in mind and are considering hashtagging one of the words in the copy, use a platform like Tagboard, to do some research. If you don't use a platform like Tagboard, at the very least, open up another window and search the platform you're about to hashtag on to see if that is a popular hashtag or if there is another you can use.
2. Pump the breaks.
Hashtags are used best, in my personal opinion, when they are punchlines or have comical value; one quick short hashtag. However, obviously not every post you are going to write is going to have a good punchline. Not a problem. Limiting your hashtags is still going to prove to be beneficial. I would say no more than three per post. One, or even NONE, is okay too! Remember that if you start over-hashing every post you do, you lose part of the human element that draws us to social in the first place. Don't be a hashtag machine!
3. Don't hashtag your user name.
Your username is already going to show up in a post. You don't need to categorize your content in the same way your user name appears. (I.e. You don't need to write a post like this: "@mfearon4 Latest blog post about hashtags #mfearon4." Furthermore, that's what "@" mentions are for.
If you are holding a special event or are holding a "twitter chat" incorporating your name or a part of your name isn't a bad idea. In fact, that brings me to my next point...
4. Use event hashtags.
If you are holding an event or are part of an event that has created a hashtag, like say #Inbound13, definitely use the relevant hashtag for that event or create a hashtag for the event you are hosting. Encourage people to use it when they are on social media, which they will be.
5. Get clever.
Last but not least, while I don't recommend going around hashtagging all day every day, the hashtag has become a well known trend and tool. Don't be afraid to incorporate the hashtag into other marketing materials. For example, say you bring up a trending topic in a blog post. Create a hashtag that you make mention of to keep that conversation going on other social platforms.
I hope that this post helped you understand how to hashtag a bit better. Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to me on twitter with tag #MLHashHelp.