125 million hashtags are shared online every day, so it is important to understand what they are for and why people use them. Whether they are used for business purposes, to follow trending information or just for fun, they’re a very powerful tool on social media sites.
Hashtags are widely used on social media channels to highlight the importance of specific words or phrases. A hashtag creates a clickable link to enable users to view posts and comments that use the same hashtag all in one place. For example, tweeting about Star Wars you could tag #StarWars, clicking on this hashtag would allow your viewers to browse other posts related to that subject.
Although it is predominantly used on Twitter, users on Facebook and Instagram often add hashtags to content to draw attention to their posts. The symbol first appeared in 2007, when former Google designer Chris Messina tweeted using ‘#barcamp’, referencing his tech event he was organising. Since then they have become a standard social media symbol.
Hashtags allow communities of people interested in the same topics to develop. Accessing news about recent events can be much easier, so users can search terms and get related information in one place, like #Brexit. Users can use existing ones or create their own they can add to their posts. The most popular Twitter hashtags of all time include #BlackLivesMatter, #funnycats and #EdBallsDay. Popular Instagram hashtags include #love, #instamood and #photooftheday.
From a marketing perspective, businesses can use them to boost a brand, reach a target market and get their content out there. Posts with hashtags receive around 21% more engagement than posts without, so they’re an important means of boosting readership of content. It can also help Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) by increasing the chances of appearing in relevant Google searches. Searching for a hashtag, as a Google search query, displays a scrolling live feed as well as relevant blue link search results with the searched phrase. However, it is important to not overdo it as without a clear strategy they can easily go to waste.