Face it, hashtags are everywhere. They make us smile, cringe, and sometimes feel stupid when we can’t figure out what they’re saying #whatdoesthatsayitsallmashedtogether.

As you may have noticed, hashtags are lurking everywhere these days and most importantly, they are clickable and valuable on most social platforms. No longer relegated for merely the Twitter-savvy, hashtags are now searchable on an array of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

So what exactly is a hashtag?

It’s a word or phrase that is preceded by the symbol “#”.  Placing a ‘#’ before a word or phrase will turn it into a searchable link. Clicking on a hashtag allows you to see a feed of real-time public posts that include your hashtag phrase.

Hashtags allow you to organize content and track topics of discussion based around your keyword or phrase to see what everybody in cyberspace has to say about your chosen topic.  For example, if anybody chooses to search the hashtag term #baconandeggs in the search bar of a hashtag using platform, they can find an array of tasty and interesting posts where other people utilized the hashtag #baconandeggs in their post as well.

Why should I care?

The truth is that there is a reason that hashtags are taking over the world of social media and if you’re trying to build any sort of relevant social media presence in today’s digital age it’s important to utilize hashtags to your best advantage without.

Expand Your Reach – The clickability feature offers a few cool benefits including expanding your reach beyond your friends and friends of friends to people who are searching posts on your topic that may not have seen your post otherwise. Once again by using the hashtag term #baconandeggs, anybody super interested in breakfast meats and poultry products searching the term #baconandeggs can now connect and bond over their breakfast. As a result, Facebook is bringing niche topic enthusiasts together one hashtag search at a time.

Ways to use Hashtags – Hashtags can be used either in the middle of a sentence “I love to #garden” or after your sentence “Come check out the CSU marching band in Old Town tonight as they parade through the streets.  #rampride #csurams.”

hashtags

Don’t Overdo It – Beware that overdone hashtags can be pretty annoying and downright obnoxious. Check out this viral video sensation featuring Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon. #Hashtag with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake

#dontmindifidont #lolololololololololol…ok, we get the picture.

Platform Guidelines –  Each platform is different when it comes to how many hashtags you should use. Follow this simple guideline to stay within the parameters to keep your audience as engaged as possible:

     Twitter: Use a maximum of two hashtags per post. These should be the most relevant hashtags to your business, such as your company name, location, or tagline.

     Instagram: Use 11+ hashtags per post. We like to place our hashtag cloud in the first comment of each Instagram post. That way, the post description is cleaner looking but the hashtags are still searchable.

     Facebook: Use sparingly. Using hashtags for events or holidays can be effective, but more than two will cause your audience engagement to drop off and post performance to suffer. Try entering a space between your post description and the hashtag(s) to set them apart.

     LinkedIn: We suggest using a maximum of 4-5 very relevant hashtags to help people find your business. LinkedIn isn’t necessarily a place to be using coy or zany hashtags. Keep it simple and pertinent.

     Pinterest: Pinterest hashtags are only clickable within Pin descriptions. You can use as many as you want within the 500 character limit, but we recommend using a maximum of 5-7 relevant hashtags to help people find your business, services, and/or products.

     Google+: While Google+ isn’t the most popular social media platform, it is still viable and important for your SEO. Use a maximum of three hashtags on Google+ that directly correlate with (or, simply, are) your keywords.

Zaniness vs Effectiveness – Sometimes hashtags can be so random and zany that there hardly any search results. These are created merely for comedic and entertainment purposes. For some great examples, watch this video with Jimmy Fallon to see some of his favorite zany hashtags.  It’s highly doubtful that many people will be searching the hashtag #nomnomnomnomnom, instead it’s utilized mainly for its humor as opposed to content organization or topic tracking.

Is It Working? – When utilizing hashtags make sure to monitor your reach and engagement numbers with insights to ensure that your hashtags are actually making a difference in your posts and that you’re not just wasting your time wracking your brain for clever #hashtag terms.

There you have it, some friendly and relevant guidelines into the universe of hashtags. Now go get ‘em and have some #fun while you’re at it!