Originally created to categorize content and make it easier to find, hashtags have become an integral part of social media. In fact, they have become so important that some platforms, like Instagram, have built their entire business model around them. But what exactly are hashtags, and why are they so powerful?
This article will explore the origin of hashtags, how they are used today, and their potential power in social media. But before we get started, let’s first understand what a hashtag is to lay a foundation for the discussion.
A hashtag is simply a phrase or a keyword, without any spaces, that is preceded by the “#” symbol. This serves as a label for the content you are posting on social media and allows users to find content that is relevant to their interests.
It wasn’t until 2007 that hashtags were introduced into the social media realm by Chris Messina. He proposed using them on Twitter as a way to group conversations and make them easier to follow. At first, Twitter was hesitant to embrace this new idea, but after a few years, they saw the benefits and began to support hashtags.
Hashtags are now used across all social media platforms and have become a staple in how users communicate. In general, there are three ways that hashtags are used: to join or follow a conversation that is already taking place, to start a new conversation, and to promote content on social media.
The power of hashtags in social media
Individuals, businesses, and groups often use hashtags on social media to achieve various objectives. Let’s examine why hashtags are so powerful in any social media strategy.
Enhances brand image and recognition
Businesses often create a branded hashtag that they encourage their followers to use when posting content related to the company. This, in turn, creates a stream of user-generated content (UGC) that businesses use to promote their brand. Also, when users see a branded hashtag being used frequently on social media, it creates a sense of trust and loyalty.
Increases reach and engagement
When you use relevant and popular hashtags, your content is more likely to be seen by a wider audience. This is because users who are searching for content using those hashtags will come across your post. And if your content is engaging, they are more likely to like, share, or comment on it.
Can be used to create a movement or campaign
When used correctly, a hashtag can unify people around a cause or issue and help to raise awareness. For example, the #MeToo movement went viral on social media and was used to shed light on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault. This campaign would not have been as successful if it weren’t for hashtags.
Helps in competitor analysis
Hashtags can also be used to research your competitors’ actions on social media. By searching for relevant hashtags, you can see what content is being shared, who is sharing it, and how popular the hashtag is. This information can be used to improve your own social media strategy.
Whether you’re a business, an individual, or a group, hashtags can be a powerful tool to help you achieve your social media goals. So the next time you’re posting on social media, don’t forget to include a few hashtags.
If you have any questions about how you can use hashtags in your social media strategy, WSI can help. We’re a Phoenix internet marketing company specializing in all things social media marketing, and we would be happy to chat with you about your needs.
Give us a call today!