Hashtags: What Are They?
Hashtags are clickable bits of text that allow you to run an instant search for related content within a website.
They begin with a hash symbol, #, and end with a tag–which is basically a way of adding extra data, or metadata, to your content.
Huh? What is metadata?
Think of a stuffed bunny rabbit. Stuffed toys generally come with tags attached–the tag contains extra information about the product, including the company name, materials used, and sometimes a story about the character.
Tagging something online works the same way—there is the item itself, and then you have the tag attached to the item, which contains information about the content.
Twitter Hashtags–an example:
If I’m using Twitter and I post a tweet that uses the #kittens hashtag, you can click on #kittens to find any other Tweet where that tag has ever been used.
Instagram Uses Them Too. So Does Facebook
They work the same way on both sites. Do your best not to overdo it, especially on Facebook where they’re not as appreciated.
Use Hashtags Carefully:
It helps if your business has an uncommon name or acronym (such as #fborfw) because no one else is likely to be using the same tag when talking about unrelated things.
Come up with something unique and specific, and check it for unintended abuse potential.
#aloeroot2016websitesale is good; and #susanalbumparty is the best-known bad example (this link might not be safe for work – but it will be educational).
Companies and politicians make frequent, painful mistakes with their hashtags. You don’t control the conversation on Twitter, in particular, and if you offer up a custom hashtag for your customers to use when talking about your business, you’d better be prepared for the result when they run with it.
McDonald’s learned the hard way with their #mcdstories hashtag, which they’d hoped would solicit warm and fuzzy McD’s memories, but instead turned into an index of anecdotes about food poisoning and foreign objects found in peoples’ meals.