What is a hashtag? According to Twitter, “A hashtag is any word or phrase with the # symbol immediately in front of it. This symbol turns the word into a link that makes it easier to find and follow a conversation about that topic.”
For eg, if you want to post a tweet about a conference or an event you are attending, you hashtag it with the conference name or the event name respectively. This will help people find tweets related to the conference or an event using the twitter search feature.
Hashtags are also becoming increasingly essential for businesses, brands, celebrities etc. Every brand like pepsi, coke have their own hashtag. Brands can use different hashtags for their campaigns. For eg:
1) Krispy Kreme used the hashtag #NationalDoughnutDay to aggregate all the tweets/ photos for the National Doughnut Day. They used Tint to aggregate all the posts and displayed them on a microsite http://nationaldoughnutday2013.com.
2) Sachin Tendulkar, the famous cricketer from India, used the hashtag #thankyousachin to aggregate all the posts (tweets from Twitter, photos from Instagram, Facebook posts, Googleplus posts) for his retirement. The agency running the campaign used Tint to display the posts on a microsite http://thankyousachin.com. This campaign generated around 1.3 million tweets in just over 10 days.
Hashtag feature is currently supported by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Googleplus, Tumblr. Now before I list out different ways of using a hashtag, check out the funny video by Justin Timberlake and Jimmy falon at SNL.
How to use a hashtag:
1) Keep it contextual: Make sure that when you post a tweet or a photo, hashtag it with the relevant keyword. This will help your tweet to be discovered by others.
2) Avoid long hashtags: When you chose a hashtag for a brand make sure it is not too long. The rationale behind it is people may end up spelling it wrong
3) Do not overuse it: Overusing a hashtag can create ripple affects among your followers. Your followers may end up unfollowing you.
4) Test your hashtag: Before you use a hashtag make sure you have enough people using the hashtag. If a hashtag is not popular, there is a very low probability for people to find your tweet/ photo. So test your hashtag popularity before you use them.
4) Promote a hashtag: When you create a new hashtag make sure you promote it. Really good way of promoting the hashtag is to use various forms of advertisements. Checkout really good ways of promoting your hashtag here.
Chris Messina first proposed the idea of hashtag in 2007 but twitter management rejected it. Check out the tweet here.
Photo Credit: Brian Dooley