Hashtags have been used for ages on Twitter updates and Google+ updates and now they can be included on Facebook status updates.  A quick beginners guide to hashtags….

What are Hashtags?

Hashtags are a way of including a keyword within your status update.  They are clickable links, so clicking on a hashtag will show you other status updates that also include the hashtag.  You can use any words or combined words of your choice as a hashtag (no spaces).  It is worth searching for the current use of a hashtag if you are using it to brand your product, service or event.

Uses of Hashtags in Twitter

Hashtags are used in a number of ways in Twitter:

1. Group conversations about an event
An event allocates a hashtag to the event and advertises the hashtag before the event. Twitter users can have a conversation before, during and after the event by using the event hashtag in updates and listening to updates using the hashtag,

2. Twitter chat
Using a hashtag allows a group of diverse people to talk together for a period of time. Twitter chats are rapid exchanges of views and work best when well moderated.  Have a look at #oxhour which happens on a Wednesday from 8pm – 9pm.

3. Keywords
Including a hashtag as a keyword in an update allows people listening for the keywordTwitter hashtags to spot your update more easily.  It is also more likely to be found by search engines (though this isn’t fully implemented).

4. Adding context to an update
Some people use hashtags to identify the context of their tweet or to add humor e.g. #lovingthespeed

Uses of Hashtags in Google+

Google+ Hashtags

Google+ has taken the concept of hashtags to heart and have added functionality to make using hashtags easier.

Google+ will attempt to add hashtags to an update if they are not already included.  Hashtags are displayed in the top right hand corner of updates and clicking the hashtag will show other updates using the same hashtag.

This is a great way of finding other people talking about the same hashtag in Google+ and should be used to build your audience as well as to listen to what others are saying.  You can search for hashtags in Google+ and I’m sure search will be implemented in the main search engine too.

Uses of Hashtags in Facebook

So now hashtags have been introduced in Facebook as well!  Just include the #hashtag on your post and it will become a clickable link to see all updates that have been shared with you using the hashtag. (unless you are using the mobile app where hashtags aren’t yet clickable)

The introduction of hashtags was inevitable, as Facebook was losing out on traffic relating to brands who were advertising themselves via a hashtag on TV adverts for example.

One thing to note is that if you share an update with a private group of friends and use a hashtag, the update will stay private – if you share publicly, the update will be included in the updates related to the hashtags.

Remember though there is a good chance that Facebook will use the information to make advertising more relevant.  So if you were to hashtag #CocaCola for example, how long will it be before you start using Coca Cola adverts?

The other thing about hashtags is that if you find somebody saying something interesting in the hashtag stream, the nature of Facebook means that it is harder to connect with them than on Google+ or Twitter.

If you want to know more about using hashtags on Social Media, you should look at our range of online courses.

What do you think about hashtags?  Are they an important part of your social media marketing and what platforms work best for you?