Your little brother calls it the tic tac toe box. Your mother refers to it as the pound sign. And your grandmother still gets it mixed up with hash browns. But you and I know that the # symbol is widely recognized today as a hashtag. You see them everywhere online and you may have even used them a few times.
But do you fully understand the power of the hashtag and its many benefits? In honor of Granny, here are a few insights and details about something we affectionately call the hash brown . . . er, hashtag.
Officially known as the “octothorpe” on your keyboard, the pound symbol was used for years to mark numbers in text – as in #2, #5 and #10. In 2007, a Twitter employee discovered that you can quickly link a group of people to a word or topic simply by placing a # in front of it online. Of course, the hashtag has now grown beyond just Twitter and is also found on Facebook, Instagram and almost every major social media platform. It is used today to connect people on social media regarding specific topics, events and issues.
Remarkably affordable and effective, hashtags cost you nothing and have the unique ability to quickly and easily link people of similar interests, giving you the opportunity to build your personal or professional brand. For example, Nike uses #justdoit in its online campaigns to instantly bring customers and followers together online. Hashtags can also create real-time online conversations. Many sports teams have specific hashtags on Twitter that allow fans to communicate with other enthusiasts during a game with one simple click.
Hashtags also help with growth, especially on new accounts that have not yet gained a huge following. If you don't have an established audience, hashtags are a great way to help you build one.
Non-profit organizations effectively utilize hashtags to generate interest in social causes. Groups like the American Red Cross develop hashtags during various times of year to remind people to give blood and make donations. You can develop hashtags of your own to use on your social media accounts to call attention to your website and social media platforms. In addition, others may be inspired by your hashtags and share them on their social media accounts too, creating an instant online community.
There are a few technical and style considerations to keep in mind when using hashtags, including:
While hashtags can be subjective and depend on what you want to accomplish with them, there are a few ways to determine which ones are the best for you. Monitor other accounts that are similar to your personal or professional brand. This will help you learn what words people are using to engage with your shared target audience.
Use online resources. Hashtagify.me helps you find the best Twitter or Instagram hashtags for your personal or professional brand, hobby or interest. RiteTag generates trending hashtag suggestions based on your website content. Hootsuite is a tool that lets you see what hashtags are the most effective for each social network.
Finally, each social media platform features a “trending” section to show you which hashtags are the most popular at the time of your online visit. You can also enter a hashtag into the search bar to find other accounts that are using the hashtags you are looking for.
Hashtags are an easy, affordable and effective way to build connections with your audience through social media. To help you make the most of hashtags and your online experience, Register.com provides everything from domain name registration and web builder options to website hosting and professional email. As your trusted online resource, we're to help you build a memorable online presence – no hash browns required.