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How to Use the Hashtags

Hashtags seem to be everywhere now. They started on Twitter without any fanfare and suddenly you see being used by corporation and by celebrities. They don't seem to be much -- just the # plus a word or phrase. Yet they have a way of conveying a message and "reining in" their audience.

So what's the hashtag? It's usually a one word statement or a limited character phrase that is placed behind the main tweet (Twitter) or post (Facebook). It is a clickable word/phrase that will lead to a real-time search for other tweets and posts based on that hashtag(s).

How do you use them right?

Rule #1 - Make sure that the hashtags are popular. You can search a hashtag to see how it's being used in real-time and can see the frequency of it being used as well. In order to make a hashtag work is to make sure it's being used. Why on earth would you want to be the only person to use a specific hashtag?

Rule #2 - In the same breath as the first rule, your hashtags should make sense in the real time. #Iamsoawesomethatithurts is not a good hashtag. #Ibelieveindemocracy is not a good one either. The one thing a hashtag should be is a common thought shared among many people at the same time.

Rule #3 - Again, concluding the first two rules. Hashtags are not an clever off hand remark. Hashtags are not a passive-aggressive nor a self-aggrandizing statement to validate the original tweet or post. Hashtags are not supposed to be clever, unless they are shared.

Your hashtag's relevance stems from its popularity. If it's not popular or shared, then it won't be found. As stated earlier, make a search for like terms to your initial hashtag. From there, see what can be searched. Go into the mind of the user and think about terms they want to search for.

If you want to create your own hashtag hype, use it as much as you can until it goes "viral". Meaning don't just use hashtag friendly social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Post it everywhere where your message or product resides (YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest). A lot of corporations are doing is placing their hashtags on their print and television ads. They are also mentioning verbally on the radio and television. "Hashtag _____" has become part of our advertising jargon.

Now that you know the simple rules to using hashtags, go out and make your strategy for social media. Hashtags aren't random thoughts and they don't bring together a tweet or a statement. They have a linking usage that links your thoughts, products, tweets and posts to like posts. Use it to be part of the community, not set yourself apart.

Image credit: Bag the Web on Flickr


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