Before we dive deep into understanding “how” hashtags work, let’s first try and understand what hashtags are. A hashtag in its true meaning is a pound sign, a sharp note in musical notation.
In the digital world the meaning changes, the word “hashtag” and the symbol “#” was created on twitter that allowed people to easily follow topics they were interested in. Even though its fame sky rocketed because of twitter, now almost every popular social media site uses it.
Anyone posting something on social media and adding the relevant hashtag makes it easier for any other user on that platform to find and engage on that post.
For example- Since this month is “pride month” anyone can go on a social media platform and type “#pridemonth” and they would find thousands of posts in regard to pride month.
Hashtags make it easier to find relevant topics that might be an interest to you. Hashtags are also used to represent movements or to express public sentiments (For e.g. #BlackLivesMatter)
How to use hashtags?
Now that we have a basic understanding of how hashtags work, let’s understand how they work. Hashtags are simple to use, there are only a few points to keep in mind while using them.
No spaces- A hashtag could be a single word, a combination of words and letters or even a phrase but the only thing you have to keep in mind apart from the few other points that I will be talking about is that you cannot have spaces between any word or number. You also cannot have punctuation between words. You can use numbers but you cannot use only numbers.
Start with #- A hashtag should always start with its symbol (#), you can add numbers, words and phrases after it but it should always start with “#” for it to be “hashtag”.
Create your own- You can create your own hashtag; all you have to do is come up with something unique and something that will catch on with the general public. There are no rules or policies for hashtags. There are some directories out there but they are outdated and honestly not worth the trouble.
Make them easy to understand- Make your hashtags easy to remember and understand. Try keeping your hashtags short. It works best while using abbreviations or short and easy to understand words.
Using existing hashtags- You don’t always have to create new or unique hashtags. You could also use pre-existing hashtags to enter discussions or to voice your opinion on a topic. Just add the relevant hashtag in your message wherever it fits. Others interested in the topic can search for the hashtag and would be able to see your message/tweet/post.
When to not use- Avoid using too many hashtags for your message. Try keeping it to two hashtags in a message. Your message should not be difficult to read because of the hashtags. It is also considered bad etiquette to use irrelevant hashtags to your message for popularity or clout. Keep your hashtag relevant to your message/post otherwise some people might report you as a spammer.
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Why use hashtags?
Helps you reach your target audience- By using hashtags, your post becomes visible to anyone who is interested and has searched on that platform. It is visible to anyone.so by using hashtags that are specific to your target audience, you can increase your chances of being found.
Hashtags increase CTR- CTR is clickthrough rate. According to the research of buddy media, posts and tweets with hashtags receive twice as much engagement. Basically, people click more on tweets with hashtags and engage more with it.
Hashtags bring likeminded people together- Hashtags are a great way to engage with people who think like you and have more or less the same opinion as you on a hashtag relevant topic. It then makes it easier to connect to them and talk to them. You can also have a bigger discussion with lots of people online on topics that you all are mutually interested in.
Used for humor- Hashtags can be used for humor. It is online or social media equivalent of a rimshot. Even though it might not get you popularity or fame, it can show your online personality and that can help in how people engage with you or don’t.
All said and done, there are no bad effects of using hashtags on a social media platform and it is easy to use and does not require rocket science to understand.