Where did the hashtag come from and how can it benefit your business?
Once upon a time, an octothorp was born. Octothorp who? You might know him better by his many aliases, pound key, tic-tac-toe frame, and most recently hashtag. Yep, I’m talking about this guy #.
On August 23, 2007, designer Chris Messina sent a tweet recommending that # be used to categorize events and topics. In the beginning people were hesitant; they didn’t like the look of the hashtag within the tweet. The self-proclaimed ‘hash godfather’ didn’t give up. Messina preached that “The hashtag is what will collate all ideas under one thread so that you get a more targeted user experience, instead of just running through thousands of random tweets and wasting time”. Before long he was right, the hashtag took off like a shot and now serves our social media community faithfully.
Twitter is home to 200 million users and 140 million tweets are posted on the site every day. Quora.com estimates that 14 percent of tweets written in English contain one or more hashtags. This amounts to the octothorp being a pretty popular guy. Not only is the hashtag used on Twitter, but Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest as well.
How To Use Hashtags In Your Business’ Social Media Activity
Beyond categorizing messages, the hashtag can be used as a very effective marketing tool. By using a hashtag in your social media you can…
Lead conversations – #talk
Engaging conversations with customers is an excellent way to build brand loyalty. Be sure to participate in the conversation once started; responding to comments and questions is a must.
Increase awareness – #mindful
Whether promoting a business or a great cause, hashtags are a tool to spread your cause.
Gain followers – #fame
Twitter provides a platform for individuals to find and utilize their niche. Real time announcements allow you to apply to your audience often.
Improve reputation – #prestige
Beware: this can backfire if not taken seriously. Too many companies have used hashtags that end in disaster. (i.e. #QantasLuxury, #McDStories) Be sure you do your homework first!
Educate and advocate – #learn
A hashtag campaign can quickly alert many people to the happenings with in your community.
Hashtags are an excellent way to monitor the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. Hashtag.org is the “defacto standard for hashtag information” not to mention super handy. Use hashtags.org for analytics on specific hashtags and view trends throughout time.
And then there’s Jimmy Fallon…..
On top of being useful, hashtags can be used to add a sense of personality to your social media, which leads to customer loyalty. Social media users add hashtags to posts to add a sense of humor and enlightenment to what is being posted. It is hard to convey sarcasm and irony in only 140 characters, but hashtags provide us a way to show our skepticism efficiently.
Jimmy Fallon has taken the use of the hashtag to new heights by incorporating hand gestures to ‘hashtag’ everyday speech, and it is honestly hilarious. He also perpetuates hashtag fame by offering a weekly hashtag for the audience to contribute to. Featured hashtags include; #WhyImSingle, #MisheardLyrics, #Dadvice, #MomTexts.

And Finally, The Three Commandments of the Hashtag
It is easy to get carried away with hashtag usage; lucky for us Twitter has offered us a handy guide. See the complete hashtag etiquette here or just remember these three things…
1.       Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Two hashtags per post is plenty. We promise.
2.       Use hashtags relevant to your post.
3.       Always remember. Hashtags are public when used with a public account. Anyone can see them.
You can add social media links to all websites created using Midphase’ website builder, in the click of a button. To find out more about adding social media to your online offering visit the Website Builder page.