Hashtags have become an integral part of our daily social media routine and you will all agree. Whether its an expression, invite, event, news, campaign, activism, journalism or even a revolution, hashtags have contributed to us in more ways than we can fathom.
Known earlier as the ‘pound sign’ or the ‘number sign’, the use of hashtag was not defined clearly on the keypad of the newly invented telephone, during the 1960’s, at Bell laboratories. The inventors named it ‘Octothrope’, which means eight fields in Old Norse and its use remained dormant till 1988, when IRC or Internet Relay Chat started using hashtags to categorize images, messages, videos, etc. But it was Chris Messina, who used hashtag for the first time on Twitter in 2007 as it quickly gained popularity and was officially launched on Twitter as ‘Hashtags’ in the year 2009.
The use of hashtags has since, helped people reach a wider audience without limiting them to just their followers. As simple as adding the # sign in front of a word or phrase without any space, hashtags grew, and in a domino effect became instantly popular across all social media platforms. They started creating big and larger communities, with contributors joining in huge numbers every day. As per research, 75% of people on social media use hashtags and now, hashtags are widely used across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google+
Platform Wise Use of hashtags:
TWITTER- Also known as the birthplace of Hashtags, Twitter is where is all began and is still prevalent today. On Twitter, hashtags connect users to targeted conversations and generate more engagement. They also act as a remarkable marketing tool for brands and businesses to build and interact with their social communities; to market their products to specified groups and gauge the performance through analytical tools.
As per the results of a survey, tweets containing at least one hashtag were 55% more likely to be retweeted than tweets without them and more than 50% users were more likely to share hashtags if they knew advertisers were giving out discounts for using them. If done right, hashtags can make a huge impact on follower count and overall engagement on Twitter.
FACEBOOK integrated hashtags a little later, in 2013 and it took some time for hashtags to create an impact on the reach and connectivity of targeted groups. As compared to twitter, the value and contribution of hashtags are lower yet they are critical for Facebook business pages. They help in the post’s overall reach and provide a broader understanding of how customers interact with brands.
Yet over use of hashtags and generic hashtags can also hamper the engagement on Facebook. As per a survey done by TrackMaven, FB posts with a single hashtag got more engagement than the one’s with multiple hashtags.
INSTAGRAM- Hashtags help streamline the search for photos on Instagram by collating all with the same hashtag. This increases the discoverability of the post with the targeted audience. The entire role of hashtags on Instagram is to discover new content and find new users to follow, providing the exposure of a larger audience. Hashtags also act as an effective tool for businesses to influence and create brand following. One study found that post’s with at least one hashtag got 12.6% more engagement than those without.
PINTEREST- A fast growing social network, Pinterest also joined the hashtag bandwagon and they themselves now advise users to add atleast 20 hashtags to their posts. Creating unique hashtags on Pinterest gives the tagged content visibility to other Pinterest users searching for a particular topic.
LINKEDIN is on of the latest social networking platform to experiment with hashtags. A relatively new feature for Linkedin users, hashtags help organize and filter content for users in turn creating a better user experience for all.
TUMBLR has added a separate section for tag, where just by adding the relevant keyword, Tumblr automatically adds # and categorizes the post. The use of maximum tags is recommended as posts with tags perform better than others. Adding the relevant tags helps in driving engagement on Tumblr and also increases visibility through search.
GOOGLE+ – Unlike other social media platforms, Google+ does not curate the content with hashtags, but uses them to explore filtered topics in the network of related searches. This brings in more exposure and visibility to Google+ profiles and brands.
Understanding the power and the huge impact they make on diverting traffic through SEO, hashtags have become a well established tool for social and digital marketing. They connect and create engagement with the targeted audience through content, which in turn creates a greater brand awareness and boosts sales and profitability. They also provide the targeted audience with greater insights about the brand or businesses, by allowing them to see the brand’s history, reviews, etc., which in turn increase brand loyalty supports long term engagement.
In one of our digital campaigns for Quaker Oats, a Pepsico product, we generated 79,694 conversations with 307 Million+ impressions and a 20 Million + reach with a single hashtag- #FuelTheRealFit
It is easy to join the hashtag movement, but winning requires a good understanding of hashtags. So, here are a few tips on how to use hashtags effectively for business and marketing-
All things considered, when done properly, hashtags can prove to be an incredible asset for users as well as for brands and businesses.