The Business of Social Media: The Hashtag

The hashtag is changing the way we use social media....

I recently encountered an awesome post about the use of hashtags called “The Hashtag Economy.” In simplest of terms it was stressing the importance of understanding the new cultural shift in the use of hashtags as part of social media interaction.

What’s a Hashtag?

For those of you who are a little fuzzy about what a hashtag is, a hashtag is simply the pound sign (#) followed by a word or phrase that has significance either for cultural or self-expressive value. It original started in Twitter but is seeping into other forms of social media including blogs and other social media platforms. Below is an example:

“I woke up this morning ready to start my day #success”

The entire essence of the message is captured in the hashtag. Even though we know the message is about waking up in the morning and starting the day, the real significance (and author’s intention) was to let readers know that the day is successful. Think about hashtags as italics or bolds—they add value within the text.

Hashtags for Business?

Now you may be wondering, what does this have to do with my business or my commerce needs. This question is a reasonable one considering Twitter may still be perceived as a kids game to many of your leadership teams. However, businesses can utilize the hashtag to fulfill their commerce needs. Having an understanding of hashtags can help you relate to others in your industry or your audience who may use these hashtags.

The Pros

The hashtag is an easy way to determine who is trending topics relevant to your field.  For instance if you are a coin maker, folks who use the hashtag #coins  may be folks who are potentially interested in your business. The hashtag #coins makes it easy to categorize folks with similar interests who could be interested in your product or service. Connecting with the your audience who uses these hashtags will allow you to easily engage them and open you to a whole network of like minded individuals. Hashtags go beyond the keyword, because the hashtag encompasses the essence of an entire thought. You can think of it as a shortened sentence. Your audience uses social media, wouldn’t it be nice to relay a thought or connect using only a one word hashtag?

The Cons

With the growth of more users using the hashtag there are obvious drawbacks. The #major #being the #existence of #hashtag #abuse or #overuse. You see how much attention that last sentence got—it was either interesting or annoying to you. The hashtag was not intended for every word in every sentence. It is only intended to add value. More and more people are creating their own hashtags and trying to be trend setters. My advice for your company is to see the currently used hashtags in your industry (see Key Influencers) and adopt them into your own repertoire of social media content before attempting to create your own. You run the risk of wasting time creating a trend and less time connecting with your audience.

What’s your favorite hashtag?


About Sebastian Knowes

Social Media Guru at eFanpage
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