If you are a netizen and have a social media account, you cannot miss hashtags. They look something like this #hashtag. The hashtags are a way of tagging metadata. When the # (Hash) symbol precedes a word or a phrase, it turns the word or phrase into a search link that allows all similarly tagged content to be searched and tracks all topics under discussion based on the word or words included in the tag. It is a kind of meta tag that is used in social media like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Microblogging, etc.
Though hashtags have been informally used by the IT community for a while, it was Twitter than first made it trendy. Twitter started hyperlinking hashtags used by tweeters while tweeting, to its search query results. It made it easier for tweeters to look for all tweets on a particular topic by just clicking on the hashtag. Taking cue from Twitter, other social media got onto the hashtag bandwagon. Hashtags allow people to form and join communities that have common interests based on the hashtag that has been created.
Creating a Hashtag
It is easy to create a hashtag. It can be any word or phrase preceded by the hash # sign. You just need to add the # symbol to a word and start using it in your messages on the social network. There are certain rules you need to follow while creating a hashtag:
- Any Number of Characters – there is no limit on the number of characters that are required to create a hashtag.
- No Space – there should not be any space between the characters of the hashtag.
- Always starts with # symbol – A hashtag always begins with the hash (#) symbol.
- Case doesn’t matter – hashtags are not case sensitive so you can create a hashtag with only small letters like – #hashtag, or create it with caps like – #HashTag, the result will be the same.
- Alphanumeric base – Has an alphanumeric base so one can create a hashtag that includes numbers too like #oncloud9. Hashtags do not support any special characters so do not use them.
Like anything else in social situations, also hashtags have their dos and don’ts. You need to follow the hashtag etiquettes, so you do not attract the wrath of the net community. These are:
- Keep it Relevant – Make sure that the hashtag you use is relevant to the topic you wish to discuss. Using a vague or general hashtag will not serve the purpose.
- Use Sparingly – Do not use too many hashtags in your messages. Keep to a maximum of three hashtags per message or less.
- No Repetitions – do not repeat the same hashtag in one message. It is unnecessary.
- Use in Context – Make sure that your hashtags can be understood. So provide some reference to the topic or conversation along with the hashtags.
Uses of Hashtag
Hashtags are an easy way to get in touch with a group of people whether it is a class of students, group of friends, an organization, club, etc. They are created to encourage a dialogue amongst interested people to discuss the topic and express their views.
The hashtags have become a good way of marketing on the social media. Big brands realized the potential of hashtag marketing and are increasingly using them for their online marketing. Hashtag marketing consists of brand marketing, promotion marketing, trending or popular hashtags and most common hashtags used in content.