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What are Hashtags and how to use it effectively for Business

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Hashtag symoblised by the pound ‘#’ sign, is placed in front of a keyword to categorise a message. It gained its popularity first on Twitter, and then it was also implemented on social media sites like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Its origin goes as far as 1970s, when C language programmers used it to mention special keywords that were to be processed by the C preprocesser.

Chris Messina (an OpenSource Advocate) inspired by this, proposed Twitter to tag topics of interest. He was the first one to post a Hashtag on Twitter.

It was in the beginning of July 2009, Twitter started hyperlinking hashtags in Tweets to search results.

In early days of Twitter, use of hashtags was considered to be cool. Nowadays, due to its overuse, it is seen as desperation.

Enough said about the history of Hashtags, let us focus on our core topic.

Using hashtags in a Tweet or a conversation makes it searchable on Twitter. It is also often used to join popular conversations that maybe trending on Twitter. Having said that, we’ve also observed that people often use incorrect hashtags or overuse it, eventually killing the purpose of the message and/or truncating its reach.

Let us look at some Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter Hashtags.

Do’s:

- Use only 1 or 2 hashtags in a Tweet

- Keep your hashtags short

- Find out hashtag popularity and meaning before using it (You can use sites like tagdef.com or hashtagify.me for this. Google for more)

- Define hashtags and start a trend

- Use relevant hashtags. For example: If your tweet is about a product, and if in your tweet, you use a trending hashtag like #Fifa thinking that you will reach out to maximum audience, it just won’t happen and your tweet will get lost. Stick to the topic and don’t be greedy

Don’ts:

- The biggest mistake I have seen people make is, overusing hashtags. Please don’t do that, it is considered to be SPAM and it’s an eyeball assault. You’ll only loose followers, face criticism and would miss out on potential business

- Don’t keep spaces in between hashtags; it’s a BIG NO. For example, don’t use “#fifa world cup” as a hashtag, instead use #fifaworldcup

- Don’t eat up message space by overusing hashtags. Use that save space for your message

- Don’t use your brand as a hashtag if you’re not popular enough. Use hashtags popular within your product segment or industry

- If you’re tweeting business then, avoid using sports, entertainment, fun, creativity or celebrity related hashtags to reach out to a larger audience. Research and target your audience accordingly

Use hashtags that your target audience uses. Position your tweet from that perspective.

For example, your target audience is IT Contractors, don’t use the hashtag #ITContractors. Because, as a Contractor, I am not going to use that hashtag to search for the information I am looking for, on Twitter.

Instead, use hashtags that an ITContractor would use, such as #itcontractjobs #contractjobs #itcontract etc.

Hashtags often gets wasted because they’re not targeted and researched properly before using them. So, if you’re not sure how to make the optimum use of hashtags for business then, hire an expert or you can also use paid services of Twitter like Twitter for Business.

DidYouKnow: Twitter charges as much as $200,000 per day for promoted trends

Source: Self, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter

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Smit Shah

Smit is the Owner of ITContractorsuk.com, an avid blogger and likes to write about Contracting, SEO and Social Media.

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