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The power of the hashtag

by Michelle Dauphin on July 27, 2015

These days any social media post hardly pass by without a hashtag in it. Some may not even have the slightest idea what it may symbolize, although they may use it in front of each word they type! Sure it began with Twitter but now it has spread like the plague and is slowly becoming a trend even in print and television media.

More commonly known as the pound sign, the hashtag originated in the Internet Relay Chat in the late 1980s and it has definitely come a long way since then. It is not only used in social media to categorize or identify posts or messages pertaining to a certain topic anymore, but also it is now a major social media campaign tool. From TV shows to political campaigns people heavily use the power of hashtags to create awareness of their agendas.  Singers use them to promote their new albums, actors use them to promote their new movies, companies use them to endorse their new products, politicians use them to spread awareness of their new policies and environmentalists use them to collect funds for their new project on saving rain forests!  The power of this mere symbol is unquestionably enormous and seemingly unbeatable!

A hashtag opens a door to a bigger conversation

While some use this symbol as some sort of a punctuation mark in front of each word they type in their status updates or in the caption of a picture, it is actually used to tag a topic that is most seemingly being discussed by many others around the world. A hashtag allows you to be part of a larger conversation and contribute to it with your own opinion. It also discloses to you what other people are saying about this certain topic of interest and hence help you find likeminded people to befriend with.

To build brand awareness

If you are looking to promote your brand and gain a wider recognition for it, using an appropriate hashtag can open up many opportunities. A trending hashtag that is relevant to your services or products can bring other people to get to know about your brand and thus create awareness among them. On the other hand they could be used as keywords for you to easily find your target audience.

Hashtagged topics generate more traffic

If you want people to pay attention to or notice what you have to say, you should incorporate hashtags. For example, in Twitter, posts with hashtags tend to receive more engagement than posts without them. Moreover expressing an opinion on a popular hashtagged topic will allow others who click on it to see your comments, even though they are not your direct friends or followers. Imagine the great opportunities this would create if you are promoting your brand and they want to purchase it.

You can increase your followers

Hashtags not only allow us to share our opinion with others, but they can also be a great source of exposure to us, especially if we are trying to endorse our brands. Each of our own comments is a unique update under a hashtagged topic, and people interested in it genuinely want to know what we have to say. Such a situation creates an ideal platform for one to promote a product or a service and increase fans or followers.

Hashtags can be used in any social media site

Be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ or LinkedIn, hashtags serve the same purpose in every site. You can use it in any of these networks to attract people to participate in a conversation that could ultimately become a larger project.

While many may know the ultimate power a hashtag wields, they tend to misuse it, denying themselves of the benefits it can bring.

  • Do not use hashtags to tag every word you type. Use them in front of keywords or key phrases to make it easier for them to be found in search results in social media sites.
  • Use a single hashtag to create awareness of your brand. While too many hashtags may devalue you message, a single one can create a strong awareness among your customers.
  • Avoid using hashtags that are unrelated. For example say you are trying to promote your homemade cupcake business under a political topic that has been hashtagged, then it would not create any effect at all. So always stick to the relevant ones, if you wish to make an impact or if you wish to get a feedback.

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