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If you see my posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter… you’d probably think that I am crazy because of the tags or better known as #hashtags I use. I totally exhaust the utility of these tags but while surfing the net I came across an article that actually talked about hashtagging.

All points were against me because, well I am very random at hashtaging (don’t worry we are on the same boat, pal) But what I actually learnt is something that I feel each hashtager should know.

Fun facts:

#1 There is a history behind social hashtags

#2 There is a limit on the number of hashtags one can use on different websites

#3 They actually have a purpose

#4 Using too many hashtags can make your post look like spam

#5 The word hashtag was added to the Oxford dictionary in the year 2014

History of the social hashtag

Hashtags have been in use even before social media emerged; they were used as number signs to denote something e.g. an address. They have always been used to describe a special keyword. Chris Mennisa is the man who introduced hashtagging on social media and for the very first time on twitter by tweeting:

After which it started flourishing all across the globe. It became rampant after the San Diego forest fire.

Why Hashtag?

The main purpose of hashtags is to relate to common things and help facilitate categorisation of data. The hashtag helps one to search effectively and accurately. Each tweet, post that contains similar hashtags is put into a single group so that when user searches for the hashtagged keyword, they are directly exposed to all data relating to it.

Social Media and Hashtags

Twitter: Being the birthplace of hashtags, a user cannot use more than 2-3 hashtags because they can use only 140 characters to convey their message.

Facebook: In 2013, it started allowing the use of hashtags, however, on Facebook there is no limit to the number of hashtags you can use.

Instagram: It restricts its users to 30 hashtags , if you exceed it, it would not post your picture. It works very efficiently with hashtags and is probably one of the most hashtag friendly website.

Tumblr: It restricts its users to 30 tags; it doesn’t really follow hashtags but a similar concept of tags.

Google+: It has no restrictions on the number of hashtags. You can hashtag in posts as well as comments.

Pintrest: It has no restrictions on the number of hashtags. But the hashtags in your username do not facilitate searches. Only the hashtags in the pin description help to attract searches.

How does a hashtag work?

Hashtags help to combine keywords and turn them into searchable links, so that when a user searches for that word or related words they are automatically directed to the group formed. They help optimize search and provide a more accurate output.  It organizes content and tracks the topics discussed based on the keywords. It saves time as well as direct one to the exact searched word. E.g.

My #yellowdress looks fabulous on me! #zara

The #yellowdress and #zara have now been converted into searchable links. Every time someone searches “yellowdress” or “zara” they will be directed to a page where my post is also visible. This can help companies, campaigns and even individuals.

How should you use hashtags?

Using hashtags randomly and aimlessly doesn’t serve any purpose. There is a way to use them so that you can increase interactions. If you use them without any rhyme or reason it is not going to get you anywhere. It would actually let you lose out on followers and I am sure you don’t want that. Do you? I am going to give you some tips that you can use to increase your followers as well as get your posts up high in everyone’s vicinity along with using the correct hashtags.

“More hashtags, more followers”

Apparently not! If you use too many hashtags your followers will think you are probably spamming them and if your post contains way too many hashtags it would also be an obstacle to categorise it. Make your hashtags related to what you are posting. This way, users will not only be able to connect more to them but will also be able to remember them. “Hashtags are an autobiography material”

There’s a reason it’s a hashtag and not a hashsentence or a hashparagraph. You are supposed to keep it short and concise. Two words should be the maximum words in a hashtag. If you write a complete sentence, you are not going to get any searches or interactions. Nobody types long sentences while looking up stuff the net and I suggest you stop writing long sentences in your hashtag.

“Because random is new cool”

Not when you are trying to get views or interactions, you have to stick to the point and be precise. Your tags must be well defined, no matter what. If you add random hashtags, not only do you lose out on interactions but you are also ranked lower. So if you actually have something important to deliver it would not be showcased because of the previous random posts. #shoelace #phone not the combination you are looking for.

“I know what punctuation marks are”

You sure do know punctuations and their importance in the English language, but I am sorry the hashtags concepts don’t view it like that. You can never use a punctuation mark or space while hashtagging. If you do that it would not be a hashtag anymore. You’ve got to stick to no spaces and no punctuations. #nopunctuations required!

“My existence is irrelevant and so is my hashtag”

No! For both of them. Everything in this world has a purpose and has a relevant function. The same goes for a hashtag. Each hashtag that you create occupies some space on the web and thus creating irrelevant tags can add to the junk on the web and once again degrade your interactions. The more precise and to the point you are, the more efficient hashtags will be.

“Pun is something that I was never taught”

Well, a pun is a word that may have two meanings. When hashtagging, make sure that the word you are adding in front of the hash is not used as a pun. This may direct interactions that are not related to your topic and result in a null output. E.g. The greatest movie releases this #fall now fall here means autumn but one could take it to be the act of something dropping.