A hashtag refers to the # symbol that is now commonly used on various social media sites. It is the symbol you’ll find above the number 3 on most keyboards.
Originally, it was used in Twitter to mark keywords or topics in a tweet.
Other platforms, however, such as Google+ and Pinterest now also support the use of a hashtag.
The original goal of using the hash tag symbol was to categorize messages so they can easily be searched by people on the internet.
In Twitter, the best practice is to use the hashtag before relevant keywords or phrases without any space in tweets. For example, #socialmedia, #weddingflowers and so on.
The hashtagged word can then be placed anywhere in the tweet depending on one’s preference.
Likewise, you can place your # before any word in your Google+ or Pinterest post before you share it with your followers and connections.
Also, it’s not case-sensitive so whether you type the word in upper or lower case preceded by a hashtag, it doesn’t matter.
Normally when you click a word that has the hashtag symbol before it in any message that you see, you will be shown other tweets that belong to that particular category.
When these words gain popularity, they then become trending topics.
Benefits of a hashtag
Basically when you use hash tags, you are creating communities of people or joining an online conversation of people sharing a common topic.
In addition, you are allowing other interested people to easily search for the topic.
On Facebook, the hashtag does not work.
But since social media sites today allow cross posting of posts, Facebook users can include the # symbol in their Facebook status update if they also want to share the same message on their other accounts, such as Twitter.
So if you auto-post to Twitter via the use of your Facebook posts, using a hashtag here may just work.
Those who organize events and run businesses can also benefit from using the symbol.
By creating a unique hashtagged word or phrase related to your event, you can promote it on Facebook as well as other platforms to raise awareness on your particular activity or business.
This will get people talking about it.
Have you used hashtags to create a following of your topic? What did you find worked best?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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By Wendy Chamberlain
Copyright 2012 Savvy Web Women Pty Ltd
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Wendy Chamberlain is the founder of www.savvywebwomen.com and creator of the Savvy Online Engagement Blog – the information packed resource that shows business owners and entrepreneurs how to use online strategies to connect with key stakeholders, influence decision makers and be seen as a thought leader, all via the use of social media. To receive your FREE Special Report and how-to articles to expand your Online Engagement toolkit, visit www.wendymoore.net.