I am going to assume you have seen a #hashtag before…even if you are not sure where they came from or their purpose.
Allow me to provide some insight.
What are hashtags?
According to Twitter:
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
But it is important to understand they existed long before Twitter and are not a creation of their’s or of the Twitter community.
In fact, hashtags were first seen in IRCs (Internet Relay Chat) which were created in 1988.
Their purpose was to label groups or topics and to mark individual messages as relevant to a specific channel. Their use on Twitter was a natural result of their use in IRC channels.
How do I use them?
Can I create my own?
Yes and it is simple. When on Twitter, Google+, Instagram, or other network that uses them, place a # in front of a word or phrase with #nospaces. Once you enter a space or other character that is not a letter, the hashtag breaks.
How are they useful?
In the below screenshot notice how many of the trending topics on Twitter consist of #hashtags. 6 out of 10 or 60% (if I counted correctly).
Only the most popular topics appear in this list so a lot of people have to be using those hashtags for them to become trending.
With that said, whether on Twitter or G+, use hashtags in the search box to find like-minded individuals. For instance #Music101, #Parenting, or #FF (follow friday).
Here is a list of ideas for using hashtags:
- find people to follow.
- find news or follow events.
- start conversations or get involved in existing discussions.
- brand your album, event, or new single.
- make it easy for users to find your band by creating a custom, easy-to-remember hashtag.
- run a contest or other marketing campaign and use hashtags to track sharing and other activity.
What are some tips for using hashtags?
Keep them short and relevant. Typically one word or short phrases like #IGotAThingFor.
Use them to search for groups of people that share your interests. Searching for genres (#hiphop) or phrases like #newmusic or #indiemusic can help you find others to follow and connect with.
Specifically on Twitter, including #nowplaying or #video when Tweeting your songs or videos can potentially put your links in front of more people.
Organize campaigns around your new album or an upcoming gig by creating a hashtag specific to each event. Use your existing fans and your mailing list to make your hashtags popular.
I have included some useful links below.
- What Are Hashtags? via Twitter Help
- Hashtag via Wikipedia
- Internet Relay Chat via Wikipedia
- Quick Start Guide to Hashtags via Hashtags.org
- How To Use Hashtags on Twitter: A Simple Guide for Marketers via Hubspot
- How To Use Hashtags Without Looking Like A Total Beginner via Technorati
- 5 Ways Your Business Should Use Twitter Hashtags via Mashable
Update: Google Specific hastag tips posted by C Bret Campbell