#Hashtags. #Somisunderstood. #Somisunderused.

With out a doubt, every time I teach a class, there is always someone in the class who asks me, “What is a hashtag?” I then explain what it is and does to fine tune searches for your specific event, product, phrase, or business. Let’s look at how it works.First of all, let’s discuss the evolution of the #hashtag to have a better understanding of where it originated from, and why it was created. Believe it or not, hashtags were used long before Twitter. In 1970 the hashtag (a.k.a. Number sign) was used to in front of the word immediate in the assembly language of the PDP-11. It wasn’t until 2007 when the first # (hashtag) was seen in a microblog on Twitter by Chris Messina from IRC. Two years later is when the hashtag became a practice with Twitter microblogs. It was also in 2009 that Twitter hyperlinked all hashtags. At the same time, Twitter introduced “Trending Topics” and displayed those hashtags with the most interest (or trending, as it is dubbed).Why is it called hashtag and not pound sign as we know it in the United States? Well, it seems as though in other countries, the pound sign is known as a hashtag. The term “hash tag” was first used in a blog by Stowe Boyd in 2007 and the rest is history. *

Enough about the history of how the hashtag came to be, why use it is the real question?

For An Event
When holding an event, a hashtag can be used to provide those attending with a way to find out what is being said about the event and even used if there are changes. A for instance, a few months ago I gave an example of how I attended a national conference for Constant Contact called OneCon. The coordinators for the event used the hashtag of #onecon2014. When you do a search of #onecon2014 you will find out what was shared.

For a Product
By creating a hashtag about your product you create a way for people to find your business in other ways. You can also become a part of trending that might be happening for your business or service that you do. An example would be #aloevera. I have a client that sells cosmetics with aloe vera used in them. I am able to see what is being said by other businesses about aloe vera to help her see what is trending.

For a Phrase
By creating a hashtag for a phrase that represents your business, you are able to attract business to your business through that particular hashtag. A good example of this is #rockyourholidays which is one I used last holiday season for a series of Constant Contact training sessions we held. You will see when searching this hashtag there are many other Constant Contact ALE’s that used the same hashtag.

For Your Business
Every business should have a hashtag relative to their business name. We use #gomaava for ours and when searched you will find everything happening with us. It’s easy to create a hashtag.

Now, how many hashtags should you use in a post. One is the most appropriate; two is tolerable; and three or more are seen as too extreme. Too many hashtags makes it difficult for the reader to understand your message. In fact, the misuse of hashtags can lead to account suspension.

By providing you with an explanation and examples of the way to use hashtags, I hope you will make a point of creating them for your events, products or services, tagline or phrase for your business, and your business name. Become part of the trending going on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and many more social networks. Need help to trend your business? Contact #gomaava.

* Source for the origin of the hashtag – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtag