At a recent family gathering, we were sitting around the dinner table discussing the good old days. One of my cousins commented on Throwback Thursday and asked if #TBT was Twitter’s most widely used hashtag. That’s when Grandpa spoke up. “What the heck is a hashtag anyway? Why do you need one?’
Well, Grandpa, you’ve come to the right place to learn.
What is a hashtag?
- A hashtag is a keyword preceded by a pound sign (#).
- The pound sign turns any word or group of words that directly follows into a searchable link.
- Hashtags allow you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords.
Although they may seem confusing and unnecessary, they are very important to the way we communicate online, and it’s important to know how to use them.
Why do I need a hashtag?
- A hashtag expands the reach of your tweet beyond those who follow you to those who are searching for like content.
- Anyone sharing content on a relevant topic can include a hashtag. That content then becomes a searchable link to your tweet.
- Tweets with hashtags get twice the engagement than tweets without hashtags and are twice as likely to be retweeted.
Three key tips for all #users:
1. Be specific: If you’re using a hashtag to join a conversation, make sure the hashtag is specific and relevant to your topic. If you’re talking about Mother’s Day, use #InspiredByMom instead of simply #Mom. A vague or generic hashtag like #gifts or #flowers isn’t as effective either.
2. Make it simple: Hashtags, like links, look like spam if they are used too often. Three hashtags should be the maximum on Twitter and Facebook, but you can get away with more hashtags on Instagram and Vine.
3. Give context: A tweet that contains only hashtags is confusing and boring. If your tweet simply reads, “#angry,” your followers won’t know what you’re talking about. Similarly, if you tweet, “#TheVoice is #awesome,” you’re not really adding much to the conversation.
So, Grandpa, if you want to look on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and reminisce, search Throwback Thursday with #TBT and entertain the young‘uns for hours. I hope this helps, and remember #iloveyou.
Written by: Gayle Hannah Hill