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What is a hashtag? Social media tips for online businesses

Definition: Hashtags refers to the usage of the pound or number symbol, "#," to mark a keyword or topic on social media. Hashtags originated on Twitter and have since become common on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms.

Hashtags evolved organically among Twitter's users as a way of highlighting subject matter. Now, Twitter uses hashtags as a way to group postings and aid its search function. A successful social media marketing strategy requires careful hashtag promotion and engagement with users.

Hashtag basics

  • Hashtags consist ofthe hashtag symbol followed by a word or series of words written without any spaces (e.g. #sale, #FourthOfJulySale).

  • The only limiton the length of the text string is Twitter's 140 character limit. The recommended limit for hashtags is 6 letters or fewer, though this is not a steadfast rule and various by platform.

  • Hashtags become a live link once tweeted.

  • When a user clicks on the hashtag link, Twitter returns a list consisting of every Tweet which contains the same hashtag, starting with the most recent.

  • Hashtags have a very limited life- some hashtags become wildly popular for 24 hours and never appear again. lists the internet's most popular hashtags of the day in several different categories.

Hashtag best practices

Different hashtags are often used by particular demographics, giving online businesses the ability to target their tweets and other Twitter communications at a target audience. Hashtags are an excellent tool for market segmentation - the trick is knowing the right hashtags to use and how to use them. Here are a few tips for getting hashtags right:

  • Research popular hashtags that apply to your products or services as part of a wider social media strategy (see above).

  • Don't overuse or spam hashtags - two hashtags per post is more than enough if the hashtags are well selected.

  • Use camel casefor hashtags with multiple words or a phrase, which makes each word stand out and aids legibility.

  • Use relevant hashtags that relate to the tweet and any linked content, or it will be very tough to generate traction.

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