What the Heck is a Hashtag?

While I’m an experienced (read ‘old’) geek, I’m relatively new to social media and blogging.  As a result, I was initially confused by the use of the ‘#’ sign (known to elders as the number or pound sign, programmers and social networkers call it a ‘hashtag’) in front of a variety of words that were posted in blogs and comment sections.  As an unrepentant Google addict, I decided to figure out the whole hashtag thing.

This should not be confused with the ‘@’ (‘at’) symbol which has an entirely different purpose. It should also not be confused with the ‘?’ which, at various times can be used to indicate a question (Where do you want me to put this?) or, when used in conjunction with a ‘!’ can be used to indicate incredulity (You want me to put this where?!?!?!).  Of course, the simple ‘.’ can also be used in a variety of ways such as the end of a sentence (I put this where you wanted it.) or when used consecutively, a transition to a new but related idea (I put this where you wanted it but … I’m not sure why you wanted it there.)  Then again, there’s the colon (not to be confused with the body part just before the you know what) which is usually used before a list of possibilities (You can put that: (a) where the sun don’t shine; (b) in your back pocket which is kind of like (a); (c)  other (use your imagination). But, I digress…

In social media, hashtags are used to identify search terms thus making it easier for other users to find relevant information in posts.  So, on Facebook, I might search #hashtag if I wanted to see posts about hashtags (yeah, I see the irony here). To narrow the search, I might use other hashtagged words leading to #hashtag #socialMediaUse #funny (I think this post is kind of funny).  Basically, when you use a hashtag, your post is categorized with other posts using the same hashtag.

In addition to helping others find your posts, using the right hashtag can significantly boost traffic to your posts.  Trending hashtags (words associated with the latest news of the day, viral video, etc.) can lead viewers to your post simply because it is now part of a larger conversation.

Just a couple of quick notes.  Don’t use spaces or symbols (just use letters) and use the camel case (capitalize each word so they are easy to identify).  Also, if you don’t want to be annoying, don’t use hashtags that have nothing to do with your post just to drive traffic from trending tags.  Finally, try to avoid brand names unless your post is genuinely related to the brand.

Now that you know the basics, here’s a handy dandy site for a deeper dive that includes ‘how to’ tips for just about every social media site. https://coschedule.com/blog/how-to-use-hashtags/

And, now that I think of it… #SocialMedia #hashtag #punctuation


About the Author: AF

Allen Friedman Founder and CEO of Techaerus LLC

Allen Friedman is the owner and CEO of Techaerus LLC, an office efficiency consulting firm. He is also a licensed attorney. Allen founded and managed one of the largest consumer collections law firms in the country and managed over 50 attorneys as well as hundreds of non-attorney staff. Prior to founding that firm, he opened and managed the New York and Michigan operations for the largest consumer collections firm in the United States. Throughout his career, Allen has always placed great emphasis on ensuring that investments in office technology provide the greatest possible returns. In order to achieve these returns, he focuses on three pillars of office management; asset management, training, and automation. His expertise includes document/image management, software and hardware integration, training, and process management and automation. Allen lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Amy, his children Cassidy and Gideon, and two adorable dogs named Roxie (a labradoodle) and Bentley (an Old English Sheepdog).