To the new social media user, hashtags can seem like a foreign language—especially when attempting to use hashtags for branding efforts.

What exactly is a hashtag?

A hashtag is something like:  #nmtrue, #SB50 #NationalPizzaDay, etc.

Yes, the hashtag symbol (#) was once and is still often referred to as a pound sign, and it looks like a tic-tac-toe board, but in today’s social media world, hashtags have many vital uses for branding, advertising, and creating a name or campaign that has the potential to go viral.

A hashtag is anything entered into the text of a post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter that becomes more than just a word or phrase; it becomes a clickable and searchable link. This is important, especially when joining into larger conversations or engaging with ongoing topics of discussion.

This can be an important step in reaching a larger audience for businesses and organizations. For example, if you are a local restaurant in Albuquerque, looking to promote yourself as a locally owned option, you might research hashtags that are trending—meaning, they are frequently used—(this can be done by using the search bar in any of the social media forums), decide which ones best describe your post, and begin incorporating them in your post. Some hashtags to use might include #buylocal or #NMTrue. These will tie your posts in with trending posts along the same lines of content, thereby increasing the potential reach of your post—and hopefully, over time, growing the audience of the page.

When you click on a hashtag, it takes you to a newsfeed of all of the posts using that hashtag. Because of this, using popular hashtags (as long as they fit the context, meaning, and overall intent of your post) can help you increase your social media presence.

In addition to allowing your posts to be searchable to wider audiences, you might want to use a hashtag of your own (incorporating your brand name or slogan) to begin branding your products or services to your audience—and to let them know how to talk about your company or organization on social media.

Hashtags can be overdone and misused. We’ve all seen the posts that make no sense and make us shake our heads in confusion when the poster is relying far too heavily upon hashtags instead of actual text (example:  #eatinggreenchileenchiladas #spicygreenchileisthebest #iloveenchiladas). These posts are often the result of either someone using sarcasm or someone who does not really understand the use of hashtags. Nonetheless, hashtags—when used correctly—are an important way to communicate with your audience and reach new audiences. They are especially important in communicating with millennial consumers.

Know when and how to use them, but definitely consider using hashtags. Have fun with them, but play it safe and do a little research before using hashtags to make sure they are, in fact, in line with the intent of your message. After all, no one wants to have to apologize for an ill-intended message (anyone remember that time DiGiorno got a little too excited and tried to use a trending hashtag about domestic violence to sell their products? See the story here).

If you’re ever unsure of the context or need a tutorial on how to implement them, be sure to give us a call at (505) 764-4444.