If you’ve been wondering, “Why is everyone using the # (pound) sign on Facebook,” I’ve got news for you. Our beloved “pound sign” has been rebranded as a social media tool called a “hashtag.” Go ahead, ask: “What the #?”
A hashtag is a way to identify or tag a topic on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Using a hashtag, for example “#donuts” (pronounced “hashtag donuts”) contributes to a topic that is trending on these platforms.
Now why in the world would anyone want to do this? It’s simple: social media is, well, social. And part of participating in social networks is to share or contribute to one or many topics or themes. Let’s take a closer look at how #donuts can be used.
Meet Mike, a donut connoisseur who travels the country tasting and photographing the strangest, tastiest, biggest and smallest donuts. As Mike documents his findings and shares them on his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, he consciously applies #donuts to every post. This allows him to contribute to the topic #donuts on each platform. Additionally, contributing to #donuts gives him exposure to a target audience that is also interested in the topic, which can help him gain more fans/followers/likers.
Now let’s meet Kristi who just opened a donut shop that specializes in something beyond your averaged glazed. Kristi has just posted today’s donut specials: mango cilantro, dirty chai and churro con chocolate ending with #donuts. While she’s posting, she clicks on #donuts and sees Mike’s photos. “Wow, the perfect customer,” she thinks, so she leaves comments on a few of Mike’s Instagram photos. In return, Mike responds and discovers that Kristi is the master pastry chef behind these donuts he must try. The two unite and the rest is #history.
The hashtag can become mutually beneficially for a business and the end user. The key is to search the topics that are most obvious to your business, brand or product, and start contributing. Companies and brands can also create their own hashtag as a way to tag or archive news related to the company, for example, #Nutella. And similar to marketing your brand’s social media pages, it’s important to make sure your target audience is aware of the correct hashtag to use for your brand by including it in any printed materials and event promotions. Finally, keep all hashtags #short and #simple.
- Liza Sacilioc