#Hashtags? #WhatsTheBigDeal?
By Amber Bynum

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Many businesses have realized that engaging customers through social media is essential these days. Knowledge of hashtags is also essential for any social media user, especially businesses new to the social media realm. Many users do not understand the importance or meaning behind the hashtag, but this can be easily resolved with a brief hashtag summary.

INDUSTRY PULSE

Does your business use hashtags?
  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No

#WhereDidHashtagsComeFrom?

Hashtags were inspired by tags in IRC (Internet Relay Chat). In 2007, Chris Messina tweeted, "How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?"

Originally called "channel tags," the hashtag was initially not popular with Twitter users. The hashtag finally gained popularity in 2007 during the forest fires in San Diego. People began using the hashtag #sandiegofire to track updates and warn others of nearby fires.

#WhatIsAHashtag?

Simply put a hashtag is any word or phrase after the hash mark (#).

Hashtags cover a broad range of topics. They can cover sports teams, events, TV programs and inside jokes. The hash mark makes the phrase a searchable phrase. Therefore, each time a specific hashtag is used, it will appear in the same results.

Hashtags do not contain spaces. For example, "#MultiBriefs Original Content" would only make the word MultiBriefs searchable. However "#MultiBriefsOriginalContent" makes the whole phrase "MultiBriefs Original Content" searchable.

#WhyShouldIUseHashtags?

Hashtags make it easier to connect people with the same interests. It promotes the start of a conversation between users with the same interests but different social circles. The proper use of hashtags generates more followers for users and businesses.

#WhenShouldIUseAHashtag?

Hashtags should be used in all business-related posts or other posts that should be promoted.

As a general rule, use hashtags at the beginning and end of the message sent. Hashtagging every word (#I #love #MultiBriefs #Original #Content) is usually frowned upon. Typically only one or two hashtags should be used in each tweet (#MultiBriefsOC New story up! #ReadIt).

#WhereShouldIUseAHashtag?

Hashtags are mainly used on Twitter, but other sites like Instagram and Tumblr are hashtag hotspots. A common mistake is using the hashtag on Facebook. Hashtags are not searchable on Facebook — yet.

#HowDoISearchForAHashtag?

Searching for a specific hashtag is simple. Go to the search bar on Twitter and type in the phrase with the hashtag. The results will show the top tweets and the most recent tweets.

If the phrase you are searching for is current and popular, it may be trending. On Twitter, look on the bottom left side of the page. There is a section labeled "Trends." Underneath are the most popular hashtags and phrases at the time.

#HowCanICreateAHashtag?

Anything can be a hashtag. If the # sign is directly before the word, it is a hashtag.

To create a helpful hashtag, try to promote the use of a certain hashtag. At events, promote a specific hashtag and ask people attending to end all posts with the hashtag created. Include the hashtag on invitations, emails and signs throughout the event.

After creating and using the hashtag to generate interest, be sure to reply to any questions generated through the hashtag. Keep the conversation flowing.

Amber Bynum is a content editor intern at MultiBriefs specializing in social media. You can follow Amber on Twitter @AmberPR1.