Monthly Archives: December 2014

It’s Not Just the Number Sign Anymore

You have probably noticed the pound sign (#) followed by a word or short phrase on TV, in print and online.  Thanks to Twitter, the lowly “pound” or “number” symbol (#) has a new role. Regular social media users call the “#” symbol a “hashtag” (or “hash tag”).  The hashtag allows you to easily search for posts using the same keywords preceded with the # symbol in what seems like the chaotic world of Twitter.

The first hashtag symbol appeared in August 2007 as a way to define groups on Twitter.  Now, the # symbol is an integral part of social media life.  With an average of 140 million Tweets every day, it is easy to see why there needed to be a way of sorting through all the messages.   Hashtags allow searching of all public Tweets by anyone.  For example, users looking for the car repairs can search for #AutoRepair to find all Tweets and updates about car repairs.

Hashtag 2Hashtags get even better – you can use more than one within a single Tweet!   If searching for posts about the automotive repairs, users can enter #AutoRepair #California to narrow their search.  Two hashtags in the same post are acceptable, especially when one of the tags includes a location.

You can create any hashtag as long as you follow Twitter’s rules. Before creating a new hashtag, do a little research to see if a keyword is already in use.  Just search for the term.  If nothing shows up, it is probably safe to use.  If you create a new hashtag, be sure to let everyone know the term so they will use it in their posts.

Hashtags should be as brief as possible since the hashtag counts toward the 140-character limit for any Twitter post.  Use two or at most three short words for your hashtag.  You can capitalize the first letter of each word to make it easier to read.  You cannot use spaces in hashtags.

Twitter considers it “spamming” if there are numerous posts using a hashtags that are unrelated to the hashtag topic or group.  This could result in permanent suspension of the offending account, so always be relevant.

So why use hashtags?  Hashtags bring in more people and help increase website sales!  In less than ten years, the hashtag has become an indispensable tool for increasing user engagement and spreading information about products and businesses as well as industry news and trends.

A good way to launch a new hashtag is to share it on Facebook as well or tweet it.  If relevant, choose a unique photo or a catchy line to help encourage clicking on the hashtag.

Hashtag 1

Remember, content is what drives traffic to your website. Provide information about the content through blogs, videos, and links.  Be sure to include a link to your website after sharing short information on the hashtag. It will drive more people to get further information about the topic at your website.

You can further the coverage of your hashtag by inviting other industry experts to participate and answer queries. Encourage others to share and exchange their own data on the hashtag.

Finally, always provide links to your website.  The website link should be to a page with further information about the hashtag topic.  Remember, social media users expect good quality content.

Yes, social media has reinvented the lowly number sign – or pound sign.  Now, instead of taking up space on your phone, that icon that looks like a tic-tac-toe board can be driving customers to your business!