What are Hashtags?

Online Media Solutions

©June 15, 2021 Online Media Solutions All Rights Reserved.

I’ve been asked so many times by clients who are extremely intelligent doing a great job on social media they just don’t understand what hashtags are. Or why they should be used. It’s been explained to them on several search engine sites or videos and they just can’t seem to get the hang of what they are.

A hashtag is a number sign, the pound sign or the tic tac toe sign in front of a word, or a series of words without spaces.

You can hashtag virtually any word or set of words. We could hashtag Online Media Solutions as #onlinemediasolutions or #shelterdogsofinstagram or #rescuedogsrock. There are some really fun hashtags that you can personalize and use to help brand your posts to your social media networks.

A little history about hashtags is that they were used to identify specific pieces of text in information technology that were really important. That’s all that they were until August 23rd, 2007 when Chris Messina wrote the first tweet with a hashtag and our lives have never been the same!

So what exactly is a hashtag?

Think of filing cabinets, say millions and billions of filing cabinets. Each cabinet belongs to a particular platform, but they also connect to the web. Those cabinets hold filing folders and inside those filing folders are hashtags (and the posts with information that includes the hashtag). If you were to open up a file folder, you’d see any post that is connected to the hashtag.  

If I created a hash tag for Online Media Solutions on Instagram it would be placed inside a folder, inside a filing cabinet and it would wait – it would stay there because it’s not readily used.

Let’s say you used another hashtag like Shelter Dogs of Instagram or Senior Dogs Rock – those hashtags would be inside a filing folder, outside of a cabinet because they are readily used. There’s something like 2.4 million hashtags for Shelter Dogs Rock on Instagram right now – so that’s pretty amazing!

In a nutshell, hashtags are just information, inside of files, inside of filing cabinets – they are a way to organize like-minded posts.

For example, if I were to create a post and use the hashtag Shelter Dogs of Instagram, and later on someone did a search by clicking on the magnifying glass on Instagram and typing in Shelter Dogs of Instagram, they’d see my post – along with 2.4 million other posts.

Hashtags are just a way of grouping information together in a different format so you can easily search for what you’re looking for and have access to more information.

Hashtags also help with SEO or Search Engine Optimization which is what we’re all trying to increase as social media marketing people. They are super fun to use, especially when used correctly.

It’s a little disappointing when you do a search and you find information inside a hashtag folder that’s not relevant. And there’s no way to weed that information out, so you just have to scroll through it.

Marketers will try to use a trending hashtag that’s not relevant to their post, to try to get more views. But, be careful with that because you definitely don’t want to land in online marketing jail at any point for abusing hashtags or sending out the wrong information or impression.

Disorganizing those filing folders is one of the biggest faux pas in the online marketing world. When you put information out there, you want to make sure it’s accurate. But also, with the appropriate hashtags so that when you do hit the SEO at the right time, for the right information, that other people are looking for – your information will be of value.

And those people reviewing your information will know that you can be trusted.

With hashtags you can also track your key performance for those key words, and change, adjust, edit them as necessary to increase your reach and engagement. If you’re interested in learning more about reach and engagement, you can see another video we created earlier on.

We sure hope this helps you understand what hashtags are, their history & origin, and how you can use them correctly to increase your visibility.