If you are new to social media, or just not one to become obsessed with all the tips, tricks, and interworkings of getting noticed on the web, you may be wondering what all these #hashtags are that are floating around. Well, welcome to the two-part series, you will learn what they are, where they came from, and how (and how not) to use them!
Hashtags have been used on Twitter for several years. In fact, hashtags were created by Twitter users in order to identify topics of particular interest, and make the tweet more accessible to a wider audience. Essentially you are tagging, or optimizing your tweet, like you would tag a blog post. By placing a hashtag before a keyword or category in your tweet, you are adding it to a “list” of tweets about that subject – subjects that are searchable on Twitter. So when a Twitter user wants to find information on that subject, your tweet will have a greater chance of being seen because you have hashtagged/categorized it.
For example, if I wrote a post on the Laine List about how much my son likes Justin Bieber, and how we share a birthday, and I want it noticed and read by Bieber fans, my tweet might look like this: “Happy birthday Justin Bieber! #Beliebers” followed by a link to the post. Beliebers is a group of J. Bieb’s fans, and a group that will keep the twitter conversation going. Technically, this tweet could be seen by thousands of fans and will stick around for a long time. Realistically, because there are so many fans, this tweet will get burried in minutes. Still worth the effort though, because SOMEONE will see it, and perhaps retweet (RT) it.
When a large number of people categorize a particular keyword in a short amount of time, it becomes a trending topic. Usually this is some sort of breaking news, something controversial, or something special happening on television. Think State of the Union address, American Idol finale, Super Bowl, OJ and the white bronco (if only we had Twitter back then!) Trending topics generally go away as fast as they show up, so keep your blog posts and your tweets timely!
Hashtags can also be used so people can follow a big event. For example, at the annual BlogHer conference, BlogHer topic moderators create categories with hashtags so people who cannot attend the conference can follow along in semi-real time.
Hashtags do not have a place on Facebook, per se. There is no categorization or trending topics on Facebook, and no real conversation to find and add to with the use of hashtags. BUT, you do see hashtags used on Facebook, generally by people who have their Facebook page linked to their Twitter page. For example, one of my recent status updates on the Elaine Griffin Designs page was, “What do you want to know about #Pinterest, #Twitter, and hashtags?” I used hashtags because I have my two accounts linked, so what I post on Facebook automatically gets posted on Twitter. You can find more information about linking accounts on this Facebook page.
Another way you will see hashtags used on Facebook are when people are using the hashtag to convey some sort of emotion, irony, exasperation, or some general personality. It is used to emphasize that you might be saying something breathlessly or quietly, or even something that you might be yelling. For example, last week when I was unable to work because my computer was broken, my status update was, “Computer in the shop=extended vacation! #getbacktowork!”
The Do’s and Don’ts of Hashtagging
Of course there are rules and etiquette associated with the use of hashtags. They are all pretty common-sense rules that apply across the social media world, which is basically don’t spam people and be relevant.
- DO use hashtags anywhere in your tweet or status update.
- Do NOT use more than two hashtags in a single tweet/post – if you do, you will look like a spammer.
- DO hashtag relevant keywords only. Do NOT hashtag words just to get attention and drive traffic to your site. Again, with the spam.
- Do NOT hashtag the same thing over and over just to get attention. Only do this if you have something relevant to add to the conversation, which should be evident in the rest of your tweet.
Common Hashtags for Freelancers and Bloggers:
Common hashtags for freelancers, writers, and bloggers who would like to showcase their work, are looking for work, or who are interested in networking include #amwriting, #amediting, #job, #watercoolermoment, #jelly, #blogging, #bloggintips, and #wordpress. Obviously, this is a very short list, but hopefully enough to get you started.
Come back next week so you can learn how to use hashtags on Pinterest, Instagram, and in your blog titles!
Do you have questions about using hashtags on Twitter and Facebook? Is there information you would like me to include in the next part of this series?