Hashtags 101

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Hashtags 101

Aug 09, 2017

Hashtags 101

By now, you probably are aware of "hashtags," the pound sign that has taken over your social media platforms, but you may not know what they are or how they work. Though they may seem like a form of convoluted-millennial-groupthink, they are surprisingly user-friendly and functional. If used properly, hashtags can help improve your social media presence by directing new people to your content pages.

So, what are they? Hashtags placed either at the end of a social media post, or where they fit continuously within the sentence (e.g. #waffles make the best #brunch). They are essentially a super convenient way to group things together across a social media platform so that others can quickly find the information that they are looking for. For example, if I were looking for pictures on Instagram of cats, I might search #Cats. I then would be taken to a stream of all of the posts on Instagram with #Cats. Hashtags basically make a label for every possible topic, so that all posts pertaining to that topic are together in a nice, organized space. When a lot of people start posting with the same hashtag at once, that topic is considered to be "trending."

Because hashtags provide a straightforward means of shepherding new viewers to your social media page, it is important that you use them in your business social media posts to help stimulate business growth. However, because hashtags are more abundant than Game of Thrones fans, it's crucial that you use hashtags in a strategic way.

If hashtags are essentially a way to group items together, then it is in your benefit to use hashtags that are popular. Because the hashtag is popular, it is more likely that new viewers will be searching within that category. But, if the hashtag is too popular, then your post will likely get buried beneath mountains of selfies and study abroad photos; may it rest in peace.

The trick is to find hashtags that are frequently used and trending, but not so common that even your mom knows about it. A really good resource to use when choosing what hashtags to use is ritetag.com. It is a website that will give you instant feedback on your hashtag of choice based on how many and how frequently people are using it.

It's also important to note that while you shouldn't go overboard, you can use multiple hashtags in a post. Use them to your advantage so that they better serve your brand. You should use at least one hashtag as bait to get a new viewer to see your content and then a standard, in house hashtag so that you can create your own category. For example, a post by Bakery X might say something like, "Mondays mean monkey #muffins. Get yours today! #LAfoodie #BakeryX." Here we see that the post would pull in people who are searching for #muffins (who isn't?), it pulls people who track #LAFoodie (it's trending), and also circles back to the bakery that is posting. This enables their content both to reach new viewers and for them to return easily by searching #BakeryX in the future.

Hashtags are a really nice way to help market your brand. They are simple to use, yet can really do some heavy lifting when it comes to bringing in new viewers to your content. In coming weeks, we will talk about the FTC requirements for hashtags disclosures in sponsored post. #Hashtag. #PfeifferLawCorp.

Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. The class covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.

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