Nevermind how.  First why would you use a hashtag?

By using a carefully chosen “keyword” as a hashtag(#) you make your post or update searchable and pin it to a hash tagparticular line of conversation that is ongoing or trending.

Different social media users from all round the globe can link their conversations together through a hashtag, so you can easily become part of a global conversation.

If you click a hashtag that is in a message, you get to see the list of all the posts using the same hashtag.

Ok so what is a hashtag?

It is simply an easy way for people to categorise, find and join conversations on a identified topic.  So if you are new onto a platform and have not built up an audience, you can tap into what is already there by using hashtags.

A hashtag is used to highlight keywords within a Tweet, Facebook update or Google+ post and can be placed anywhere within a post.

By using a hashtag you can get an audience at a live event, for instance, to interact.  Great for events such as conferences, TV shows, or sporting events, as it draws those that couldn’t attend into whats going on.

audienceA list of popular hashtags, at a given time can be, found at Hashtags.orgHootSuite, which is a third-party downloadable app, can also be used to monitor hashtag activity.

Now you just need to know how to use them!

You don’t need any tools to apply a hashtag to your message.   All you need to do is type your text and then insert the hashtag at any part of the message, just in front of your #keyword and then send.  Of course, your hashtag is not just any word in your soma post.  It needs to be a carefully researched keyword that is relatable, so that other  users will be inspired to use it for their posts.

The use of hashtags is not just for Twitter, although this is perhaps the most popular. They can be used also for other micro-blogging platforms, which include Google+identi.ca and Instagram.

There are certain letters and characters that are not allowed for use with hashtags and you should check the rules of the platform that you are using for more details.  To give you an idea, if all the characters in your hashtag are numbers,  #1234, it won’t work.

3 tips to make the hashtags you’re using work for you

Do your homework

A quick search through Search.Twitter.com will lead you to a list of hashtags that have either; been used in the past or are active.  If you find an existing conversation on the hashtag you’ve researched, you can always change to something equally targeted but not used as much.

Go easy on the sentimentslovebirds

Some hashtags don’t work because they rely on the emotion of the public, e.g. love or hate.  You need to ensure that any strong emotions you are trying to associate with a topic, relate with your audience.  Some politicians have used #love(….) to start a Twitter thread about themselves and the thread has bombed.

Use industry keywords

Brands and popular terms are highly relatable and its likely that Twitter users will use such hashtags, especially at events.  But be careful which brand you link with which word, #Nikefail, is not going to do you any favours and could get you some attention you don’t want.

Hash tag help

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+