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Hashtags - Getting More Exposure on Social Media

Hashtags were first created by an early Twitter user as a way to keep up with new abbreviations and trending phrases. While they were originally implemented into the Twitter platform, hashtags can now be used across a wide variety of social media sites. The proliferation of hashtags is truly incredible. What began on Twitter has now spread to Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Google search, and almost everywhere in between.

In short, a hashtag is a word or phrase that is preceded by a number sign, in the form of #keyword. Hashtags are commonly a single word, something like #marketing, but sometimes they can be comprised of an entire phrase, like KitKat's #HaveABreak.

When you're using hashtags in your content, you're identifying the most important and popular keywords to highlight. Users are able to search through social media, both on individual platforms and on third-party websites which scan many different news streams, and find you or your message by the hashtags you've associated with it.

Two types of hashtags

There are essentially two types of hashtags: those that consumers can identify with your brand, and hashtags that are currently trending.

Hashtags which represent your brand are the ones you should be focusing on in the long-term. These are phrases that should be highlighted on a regular basis in your posts and tweets, and will serve as the foundation of your hashtag marketing strategy.

Trending hashtags are phrases that are really popular on social media and have the possibility to bring you a lot of online profile in a short period of time. While Twitter provides the most popular hashtags directly on its site, other websites like Sprout and Trendsmap can make it easy to find out what words and phrases are trending across various different social media platforms. It's important to keep it relevant. Make sure your hashtag is related to your post content. Using one or two keywords and phrases in your posts is acceptable, but refrain from putting too many in there at once. Not only does this take away from the content you’re actually trying to promote, but it can also push consumers away who see the practice as unprofessional.

Which hashtags to use

Websites such as Hashtagify.me and Twellow.com are great tools which have lots of data you can use to analyse hashtags. These tools allow you to identify which are the most popular or relevant hashtags. When you type in a hashtag, these services will show you other hashtags to consider and will display how popular each hashtag is and how closely it correlates to the original. This information is invaluable to business people who want to promote their products and services over social media. By using keywords that are truly relevant to your product, service, or even just your target market, you can connect with a wide range of prospective customers.