What the heck are hashtags?

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even YouTube — these popular websites (and many others) have implemented the use of Hashtags: words or phrases preceded by the pound symbol (#) that link an online conversation between other users.

But how does it work? More importantly, what’s the significance? If you’re not quite social media savvy, it’s easy to brush off hashtags as nonsense. But in truth, they can prove to be a very useful and easy-to-use tool for digital marketing.

Think of a hashtag like an invitation to a party. Everyone who holds that invitation is connected in that way, and you can go around the “room” during that party and listen to everyone’s conversations.

In essence, a hashtag is a means of tracking these online “conversations,” whether they are full-on discussions with other users or a single posted thought about the particular topic.  This allows businesses to utilize hashtags for tracking their branding and marketing campaigns.

Let’s use the famous “I’m Lovin’ It” slogan from McDonald’s as an example.

hashtag i'mlovinit

The #ImLovinIt hashtag search on Twitter shows an endless amount of conversation relating to McDonald’s, usually related to their menu and/or service. This is an excellent way to keep track of customers’ feedback and gauge their online presence and reputation. Here are two more examples:

For short-term marketing campaigns or events, hashtags give a great idea of how popular and what is being said of that particular event: Crunch Pak’s Miami Crunch Party.

For long-term branding, using your company name or slogan as a hashtag helps to get your business’s name out there: Nike

There are plenty of more in-depth articles that can give you every little detail of how Hashtags work, several of which are linked below. But above all, it’s important to remember that Hashtags connect and track the online conversation. How you use this knowledge is completely up to you.

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