Wednesday, July 10, 2013

8 things you need to know about how to use #Hashtags

For the longest time, # meant number.  Now, # means hashtag but most people don't really understand how to use hashtags.  That was fine when # was just a Twitter feature, but LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and now Facebook support the use of hashtags making # universal for even the most casual social media participants.

1.  The # defined.

Hashtags turn words and phrases into searchable and clickable links. This helps you discover topics. 

2.  How do you create a #?
Type # and your topic or phrase (with no spaces) and add it to your post. For example:

My favorite video is still  #GeigerGetsIt

If I post that to any social network it becomes a clickable link. If you click that, it searches for all the posts on that social network that have that tag.

You will only see posts that are shared publicly or to people you are connected with.  For Twitter, everything is public. Facebook is the most "protected" since most people are posting only to their friends.  But it is still interesting to use the # on Facebook and it will become more important.

3.  Can anyone create a #Topic?
Yes, and that is a drawback in some cases.  For instance, if I wanted to use #Geiger on my posts, anyone clicking the #Geiger would see lots of things about radiation. So it is important to create a relatively unique # if you are creating a #.  

4.  Can anyone reuse a #topic?
Yes. And there in lies the real power of the #.  Looking for people talking about #marketing, #tradeshows, #retail, #etc?  Just go to your favorite site and search for the #propertag.  You will get a lot of junk but you will find some very interesting people and prospects as well.

5.  What does it mean when someone says something like #Justsayin #dontblameme
It means that they are just adding some phrases to their post and saving spaces.  Sure you could click and search, but the results would be meaningless.   

6.  What are some practical uses for the #?
  • Trade Shows -- At #PPAIExpo, I met new friends by following conversations where #PPAIExpo was in any tweet.
  • Articles -- I often search for topics like #CIO or #softwaredevelopment to see any interesting articles that are being pushed.
  • Discovering new places -- If you are going to Tampa for business or pleasure, you could search #Tampa and discover the places using #tampa.
  • Prospecting -- #marketing #tradeshows are great keywords to search on your social networks and get involved in the conversations.
7.  Where is the best place to search #?
Twitter is the most public and has the most content you will discover searching with the #. Linkedin is very useful too as it tends to be more business focused.  Google+ has a lot of great content but less active users.  Facebook will have the least results but they might be the most meaningful right now since it will predominantly return the results of people in your network.  But more often than not, you want to get outside your network so LinkedIn is the place to be.

8.  Where should I post using #?
On any site you use.  But you'll need to use well known hashtags like #marketing to have people find your content or expect a narrow audience of existing customers/friends to be able to learn your #.  For example, I use #Geigergetsit which means only people who see me and others post that will likely ever discover related content.  It takes time and lots of repetition for a created hashtag to become useful.


Geiger CIO Dale Denham, MAS+ provides practical insights on how you can benefit from technology in no nonsense terms. Follow him on Twitter:@GeigerCIO or @daledenham.

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