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What is a hashtag? (The question no one wants to ask)

Guest Blogger 2/5/2014
Guest Blogger

Everybody is talking about hashtags. You see them on websites, in print ads, and they even scroll across the TV screen during the Today Show. Everyone is talking about them, but a lot of people don’t really know what they mean or how to use them. For those of you who don’t know what a hashtag is, but are afraid to ask, here is what you need to know.

Hashtags are those short links preceded by the pound sign (#). They may seem confusing and distracting, but they are in fact integral to the way we now communicate online. Since their most prevalent use is on Twitter, we’ll focus on that aspect.

Simply adding the pound sign (or hash) turns words or groups of words into a highlighted, searchable link that can be placed anywhere in a post. These, in turn, create unmediated ad hoc discussion forums related to that topic. It’s an easy way to organize content, track discussion topics and join conversations on topics of interest. Clicking on a hashtag will take you directly to a page with tweets on that subject. You can also search for topics using the Twitter search field, which will display a list of related hashtags.

Here some quick tips on using hashtags:

  • Do some research to see what keywords are not already in use
  • Keep hashtags brief since they’re included in the 140-character limit per tweet
  • Use wording that is directly related to your topic
  • Keep in mind that hashtags are connected within a single social media platform
  • Don’t use offensive or threatening language
  • Avoid impersonating an individual, group or business

If promoted by enough individuals, hashtags can “trend” and attract more people to the discussion. When a hashtag becomes extremely popular, it will appear in the “Trending Topics” area of a user’s homepage.

In addition to using hashtags to create discussions, you can insert a hashtag that you know to have your tweet included in that discussion. For example, if you wanted to post information or a comment about the upcoming 2014 Keenan Summit, you would include #KeenanSummit in your tweet to join that conversation.

So, give hashtags a try. Soon you will be a #socialmediaexpert

Tyler HollidayAbout the Author:
Tyler Holliday is the Vice President of social media and search engine optimization (SEO) for KCOMM. By creating unique social media strategies for clients, KCOMM continues to provide innovation in this fast-paced industry.