Explaining Hashtags on Twitter

Yes! I am going to explain how hashtags work on Twitter. Many people feel this is old news, but since I keep having people ask me to explain it to them during my social media and content marketing workshops, I thought I would just explain it properly in this post!

Basic definition:

Hashtags are Twitter’s way of filtering out the topics on Twitter. To make a hashtag, you just put a # sign next to a word – without a space.

You can make up your own, or search Twitter for the most commonly used one on a particular topic.

The basic use is to add specific keywords, usually at the end of a tweet. Hashtags are one word or several words together – without any punctuation marks or spaces. A lot of people mistakenly put hyphens, quote marks, apostrophes or spaces – this just breaks the hashtag word into two – so avoid this please! Keep those words stuck together.

They are useful in 3 main ways

  1. To get your tweet to be seen by more people – as anyone may be looking for or clicking on a hashtag and would find your tweet
  2. To find what people are saying about a particular topic – just search in the search box for the hashtag, or click on a hashtag
  3. To understand what people are talking about on Twitter, as they are added to the end of tweets to label the tweet as a certain topic

Some people overdo their use of hashtags – they make every word in their tweet a hashtag. Avoid this practice, as it makes you look like a noob!

1st way: Identifying a topic as a “label” at the end of the tweet

Most of the time they are used at the end of the tweet for topics, events, TV shows, or news stories.

2nd way: Used inside a sentence

Sometimes hashtags can be used inside the tweet, as part of the sentence. I usually avoid this, as I prefer adding them to the end of the tweet, but sometimes, if you don’t go overboard, it makes sense. Here are some good examples!

3rd way: Hashtags for adding meaning and feeling

But the real Twitter experts go one step beyond! They add hashtags at the end of the tweet to evoke extra meaning or emotion. These can be one word or a group of words stuck together. Try this – but like anything – don’t overdo it!

What about other social media channels?

Hashtags started on Twitter, which is now a veteran social media channel, but it has seeped into other social media channels. In brief, here are my recommendations:

  1. Hashtags on Instagram: I would recommend adding hashtags to the end of Instagram captions or in the comments.
  2. Hashtags on Facebook: I am not a fan – usually I avoid this, and to me it seems weird when people use Hashtags on Twitter.
  3. Hashtags on LinkedIn: No need to have these! They aren’t even clickable on LinkedIn.

I hope this has helped you see the light! Tweet me and let me know what you think.

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