Hashtags – they are little things that seem so great in the world of social media. Once started with Twitter, and now taken across almost all of the bigger social networking platforms, how important are they really? 

Let me start with a few of my pet peeves when it comes to hashtags (then we can end on the good stuff!):

  1. Over use of the hashtag. Please, if you feel you need to put a # in front of all the words in your updates – you are wrong. It doesn’t really help much, and it just angers people in their feed (almost as much as every tweet in your profile leading to a link – that’s another blog post entirely).
  2. Using incorrect hashtags just to be retweeted, found or more people to follow you. If it isn’t anything to do with the update or your brand – stop it. I mean it. Please.
  3. Using hashtags in your bios – this is for the world of Twitter. PLEASE – I really don’t need to see what you do, lit up in the form of hashtags. It also just takes up a valuable character each time you use it. Just share what you do, what you like and so on.

Ok, so I am over the traditional moaning, and on to the more important stuff – how to use them in the right way.

Hashtag speech bubble sign icon.Google+

You didn’t see that one coming did ya?!

Google+ have utilised hashtags within the network by helping an update have a category. As with a tweet with a hashtag, it will help you get found in search. Use one hashtag that is the main point to your update. This will then show up within the update and to the top right of it too, helping people to identify what your update is regarding.

People can also click on these hashtags to see what other updates are around it – important if you want people to find your update in a target industry! Find a little more about using hashtags in Google+ here. 

Facebook

Arg, I really cannot stand people using hashtags within Facebook but, as with Google+ and Twitter, it is helpful for finding out about the same topic. It generates a link to all other posts that use the hashtag, as with Google+ and Twitter. So it can be useful. However – how many times have you clicked a hashtag in a Facebook update, compared to the amount in a Twitter update? Hmmm…exactly!

You can find out more about using hashtags in Facebook here. 

I could go on and on about hashtags, but thought I would share a few tips on how to get your own hashtag correct.

If you are planning to run an event, or have a group chat around a specific hashtag, you need to have a think about who and how people will use it.

  • How will people find out about the relevant hashtag? Will it be posted regularly to different social networking sites, perhaps to your own website and to the VIPs websites too?
  • How will it look to others? Will it make sense and make other newbies come along and join the conversation? This is important – you want to get more and more people to find out about your hashtag, whether it’s for an event, for a particular industry, for a tweetchat or anything. So it does need to make sense
  • Make sure it doesn’t take up too many characters. Yes, this kind of goes against the previous point, but you don’t want to take up half an update with the hashtag.
  • Can it be read in the wrong way. Not many people have the same type of OCD I have with my hashtags which means I #HaveToCapitalise! So sometimes, when they do it all in lower case, may it read incorrectly or even in a rude way!? EG:
    Hashtags gone wrong - susan boyle

    Hashtag gone wrong!

    So, these are just a few of my tips for making a hashtag work for you. Do some research and check out to see the other popular hashtags that you can be a part of. My other tips will be coming next time about the importance of the right etiquette on TweetChats.