The Guide to Hashtag Usage for Dummies #allabouthashtags

Hashtag usage for dummies

In this social media era, most people are aware of what hashtags are and how to use them. Still, there are many people who are using hashtags incorrectly or in the wrong context. Here, I'm going to guide you through hashtag usage and help you become a hashtag expert!

Origin of Hashtags

Hashtags were originally introduced to categorize/group similar topic conversations for users to track and find those which are relevant to their interests.

Chris Messina from San Francisco first proposed the idea of hashtag, only to be resisted by twitter in the beginning. It was accepted later in 2007 foreseeing the benefits of it.

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How Hashtags Increase Visibility

Tweets/Posts without hashtags are likely to be viewed only by your followers/friends in your list. But Tweets/posts with hashtags will let other users to find and join conversations.

Tweets/Posts with hashtags also tend to get twice as much engagement than those without them. Plus, they can help you gain more followers, improve your reputation, and help your audience/customers find information faster.

Increased RT/Shares - Tweets/Posts with hashtag enhance the chances of increased RTs/Shares

Increased Followers - Joining in a hashtag conversation/creating your own hashtags will get you more followers and regular readers

More Engagement - It encourages people following the conversation to contribute

Increased Link Visits - Tweets/posts with hashtag will reach a much wider audience and thus the websites mentioned in the tweet will have more visits

Registering/Trademarking Hashtags

Are you aware that you can register/trademark your hashtag?

But it's not like what it appears to be. Registering a hashtag will not prevent people from using it, nor will it give you legal recourse if someone uses it in a way that you disagree with. You can’t “own” a hashtag like you own your website’s domain name. Registering a hashtag just stakes your claim to that hashtag and adds you to a hashtag directory ( or, which in turn allows you to go into more detail as to what the hashtag is for.

Trademark protection serves to prevent companies and service providers within the same industry from using your hashtag to compete with you. While Twitter does respond to trademark violations, they only do so when one party is using another party’s trademark to mislead consumers.

Hashtags on Facebook

Hashtag usage is still fairly new to Facebook, and hasn’t received mainstream adoption yet. When hashtags were first introduced on Facebook, they had a cold reception and still aren’t as effective as they are on Twitter in building conversations and engagement. Most savvy marketers use hashtags on Facebook to integrate all their social media campaigns. This EdgeRank study also points out that posts with hashtags have less viral reach than those without hashtags.

Common Mistakes

Here are seven common mistakes that businesses and individuals make when using hashtags to take note of – so you can tweet and tag with confidence.

  • They may contain spelling or very notable grammatical errors
  • They may be irritatingly long or too specific
  • They may be another version of a more popular term
  • They may simply make no sense to others
  • They may be broken due to spaces or apostrophies
  • They may be overused, which may cause the post to appear spammy
  • They may be used inconsistently or irrelevantly

Read more #YOUREDOINGITWRONG: 7 Common Hashtag Mistakes

Track Hashtags

Tracking hashtags effectively can be a bit of a challenge given the sheer number of times they are mentioned and used in different countries, different languages and different contexts.  So what’s the solution? Hashtag tracking tools!

RiteTag - The great thing about this tool is that you can research about a particular hashtag’s usage across various social networks. It also shows you the most popular hashtags category wise and help you to zero in on the ‘RiteTag’ for your campaign.

Hashtagify- Hashtagify is an advanced hashtag search engine that provides signature relations chart for any particular hashtag. You can find the most relevant hashtags related to a particular niche or category. It also offers trend charts, trend comparisons, and a list of the top 30 hashtags for any language in any given month or week.

Talkwalker- Talkwalker provides in-depth insights on the use of hashtags. Users can see the number of mentions, the engagement, the potential reach of a hashtag campaign, and can compare it to previous campaigns. Trend data about when the hashtag usage peaks can also be viewed. The great thing about Talkwalker is that it shows the new hashtags that are being used in context and relation to the original hashtag. This can greatly help in targeting, for example, core fan groups during the UEFA league.

Tagboard- Tagboard is a much more personalized hashtag research tool. Apart from researching about the usage of various hashtags, Tagboard users can create ‘boards’ for a particular hashtag (if there are no boards created already for that particular hashtag), and share it with others. For example, a user could create a board for ‘halloweenintoronto’ and Tagboard will come up with all pictures and statuses that used this hashtag across several social networks. The user can then share this with their family and friends. - This hashtag aggregator tool and directory is great for finding the hashtags that are trending in real time. The thing I love the most about this tool is the interface- it’s much easier to use.

Twubs - Twubs is more of a twitter chat room than a hashtag tracking tool. It allows you to see the stream of activity going on about any particular hashtag, and also add information for a hashtag such as name, description, images and related links or tags. Twubs is often called the Wikipedia of hashtags.

Miserable Failures

Don’t let your hashtag campaign backfire! Unless you are overly confident, do your due research with hashtag tools before you use one. Let me give you an example of the worst-case-scenario that can occur due to the improper use of hashtags.

Back in 2011, during the public outrage against the injustice of the Casey Anthony ‘Not Guilty’ murder verdict, baked goods manufacturer Entenmann’s added a random #notguilty in a tweet about having a few tasty treats. Their campaign backfired big time!

The company was forced to delete the tweet and apologize:

So beware, and have a plan in place to counter negative replies and tweets.

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  • avatar

    It is interesting how hashtags can help/hurt businesses due to its viral potential. Aside from marketing purposes, I’ve also recently seen activists, politicians and even trolls use it effectively to communicate their messages. A recent one that asks to boycott the latest Star Wars movie seems to be made by trolls, but people are writing about it. Even though it’s a negative hashtag, it seems to be helping the movie with publicity.

  • avatar

    Thank you for this post, Elan. To further expound on your points, relevance and an understanding of what the hashtag could mean, whether or not it already exists, are so important. Keep them relatively short, especially since they are effective and abundant on a network that has a character limit. Additionally, understand that hashtags are part of the lexicon nowadays, similar to air quotes.

  • avatar

    I’m torn between spreading the word about hashtags, or keep the information for myself.
    I knew some of the basics, but the hashtag research tools are invaluable.
    Thank you!

  • avatar

    I think this is a great article. I see so many people who use hashtags incorrectly and wonder why it’s not working for them with their social media marketing tactics. I am going to share this for people to see to effectively use hashtags in the future.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the info.
    hashtags are very nice to use

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