What is a Hashtag?

The goal of social media marketing is to “build your brand” and (ultimately) “sell more stuff.” One way to do this is to engage in online customer conversations. “Hashtags” are essentially the markers of “online conversations.” People who are talking about “organic food” will mark their conversations (on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok – primarily) with hashtags such as #organic or #organicfood or #natural.

One way to think about hashtags is to think about them like radio stations. (Remember radio? You probably still have one in your car – take a moment and go check it out). There’s the “country” station. There’s the “classic rock” station. There’s the 24-hour news station. There’s the “public radio” station, etc. Each station focuses on a type of content or a type of conversation. There are even “talk radio” stations, devoted to politics and conspiracy theories.

So it goes online. Hashtags are markers that help like-minded or like-interested people find each other. That’s the first meaning and use of hashtags. Hashtags are “clickable” in tweets or posts, meaning a person can click into the conversation. They can also be “followed,” meaning a person interested in #puppytraining can follow that conversation on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.

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To explore hashtags, the easiest way is to go to Twitter or Instagram on the desktop and just start typing.

Twitter –

For example, just go to Twitter (https://twitter.com/) and start typing “#organic“. Be sure to put the “#” or “hash” sign in front of a keyword that is relevant to your company, customers, or conversations around the product or service you are selling. Thus, if you are an organic market, you might just start with #organic, #organicfood, #cooking, #recipes, etc. You can brainstorm a few “starter” hashtags around keyword themes that are relevant to your customers. Watch out for –

  • Autosuggests on Twitter. Twitter will “suggest” relevant hashtags.
  • Hashtags in posts. Read or scan some of the tweets that come up, and look for “related” hashtags embedded in tweets by users.

As you do this on Twitter, create a “hashtag list” – a list of relevant hashtags for your business.

Instagram –

Ditto for Instagram. Just go to Instagram on the desktop and start typing with the # symbol as in #vacation, #cruise, #travel. Note that Instagram gives you the number of posts on a hashtag, which is a great way to see which ones are more popular than others. Again, create a “hashtag” list of relevant hashtags on Instagram for your business. You can also include what are called “geos” that is #tulsaok, #oklahoma, #okc – that is, hashtags that represent cities, states, or localities, which are especially good if you are a local business.

TikTok – 

Hashtags also exist on TikTok (https://www.tiktok.com/). TikTok is not as searchable, but you can do the same process. Take a starter keyword, type it into TikTok, and make a list of relevant hashtags on the platform. For example, the hashtag – #puppytraining collects videos about how to traing a puppy.

To-dos –

  • Understand that a hashtag is a “conversation” online, a “theme” that connects like-minded people, like-interested people, and similar content together. Hashtags make your own posts “discoverable” by others who may be interested in that theme or conversation online.
  • Research hashtags that are relevant and popular among your customers on Twitter, Instagram, and/or TikTok.
  • Make a hashtag list for your business. You can then post relevant hashtags into your own posts as a way to promote them to like-minded or like-interested (potential) customers.

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What is a Hashtag