Every social media platform uses hashtags, and over the past couple of weeks I have been asked a few questions about this subject, so we thought we’d put together a quick dummies guide for you.

Firstly the description for you, a hashtag is simply a word (or collection of words without spaces) used on social media sites that is preceded by a hash sign (#). The reason for it is to identify your message as being part of a specific topic, so in effect its a label that brings specific content pieces together that others can identify with.

Why are they important?

Hashtags are searchable, and companies tend to follow certain topics by the hastag (#) that will group them together. this means that even if they are not following you on a particular social media platform they can still see your messages. This is a really important way for you to amplify your messages to people that are interested in your topic.

Similarly hashtags are used to cover events and trending topics of news. So in real time you can keep up with news stories that are of interest to you, of course if you are running the event then this is a great promotional tool you can use to generate more buzz about your day.

Interestingly, in some instances hashtags are actually replacing URLS in advertising campaigns for some of the Worlds biggest brands to spread their messages. Whilst at The Hennessey this year (Newbury Race Course) across the loudspeaker all through the day, they were asking visitors to upload a selfie to Twitter using the hashtag #GoldCup. This is simple but very effective marketing at its best, and not a single URL in sight!

Hashtag Formation

It’s easy to create a hashtag, only letters and numbers are supported, punctuation spaces and other characters are not. So as an example content marketing would become #ContentMarketing or Legs 11 would become #Legs11. For me using Uppercase at the start of a word is more visually appealing to the eye and makes it much easier to read, however its not important as #ContentMarketing will also reveal results for #contentmarketing

You can create as many brand specific Hashtags as you want, and also use some that are already in existence. The best hashtags are ones that are easily remembered by the users (for example #Legs11)

Tools to help you

There are literally hundreds of tools on the market place today that will monitor and analyse hashtags. But there are two tools that we use a lot for initially finding hashtags and then also monitoring them on different platforms

Hashtagify.me: You can see very easily last months / weeks and breaking hashtags on this platform. You can also put in the search bar your main keyword (which you think should be a hashtag) the platform will then display similar types of keywords that are hashtags. You can keep drilling down until you have a collection of terms that are useful in your market. So we used the term contentmarketing to find the other related terms you see here

hashtags data by hashtagify.me

As you can see, immediately we have some hashtags we can use for marketing our content.

The second tool is

Tagboard Once you have linked your social media accounts you can create a tagboard that groups hashtags from all accounts together (Twitter / Facebook / Instagram /G+ /Vine / Flickr) and presents them to you. From here you can easily share them onto your platforms. Its a very neat highly relevant content curation tool.

So be a dummy no more and make sure to put hashtags in your online messages!