Hashtags are ubiquitous on the social media channels and platforms, of course, and yet one might be surprised how few people really understand them.
Oh sure, it’s become a joke almost in actual, real-time, person-to-person verbal communication to preface a particular point with the word, “hashtag,” as in, “Hashtag, get real.” (Thanks Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon for that little bit of pop culture infusion. #ReallyFunny.)
But not all hashtags on all social channels are created equal. Capitol letters are, for the most part, meaningless in hashtags and they don’t recognize and won’t include spaces or punctuation.
Twitter – didn’t actually invent the hashtag (they first appeared on the nascent Internet as early as 1988) but everyone’s favorite mini-blog made them extraordinarily popular and useful. And while grouping around a particular topic remains important, hashtags on Twitter really help when attending, say, a conference or event.
GooglePlus – has taken hashtags to a whole other level. Although Goo+ doesn’t recognize hashtags made of numbers (#1234), it particularly like descriptive hashtags, such as #digitalstrategy or #googleplustips (and don’t use #Google+, won’t work). Hashtags on Goo+ really enhance searches on topics and they’ve even started showing up in overall Google searches. And if your stymied with a hashtag, Goo+ will create one for you or suggest hashtags if you type the # symbol followed by a word (and so will the popular Twitter desktop utility, Tweetdeck.) .
Instagram – loves the hashtag and users actually search, frequently, by hashtag on the image-posting social network. Tags of place or subject matter are particularly useful. Instagram says users can post as many as 30 different hashtags…but, please, don’t.
Pinterest – yep, use them here, too, and will great success. Users often search by hashtag but on Pinterest searches by hashtag will also often turn up posts which include the same word, even without the hashtag. #Whatev.
Tumblr – only post tags in the “tags” section of each post where Tumblr creates the hashtag for you. They greatly enhance the performance of each post and make them far more easily discovered in searches.
Facebook – surprisingly the latest to the hashtag party (only since 2013) and, mostly, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of hashtags on the massive social, er, advertising platform. Because Facebook’s algorithms are keenly pointed at bringing you advertising hashtags searches on FB might only yield posts you’ve indicated you’ve like in the past. But, hey, use them if only in a very limited way.
Tsu – all over the place on this popular new upstart social network and Tsu really does them right.
The folks at QuickSprout put together a really groovy #infographic to give you the basics. And, yea, we know it’s entitled, “the ultimate” guide to hashtags. There are really very few absolutes on the social networks. Rules are guidelines, really.
It’s for your weekend reading: