People make this topic overly complicated or are intimidated by it. Today we hope to simply the topic and answer:
What the heck is a
And why should you care, as a foodie, that FaceBook now has them (as do Twitter and Instagram)? Keep reading to find out why I’m so excited…
Before we talk about why one would use them, let’s start with the basics by breaking down the word into it’s two parts:
- Hash: The ‘number sign’ or ‘pound sign.’ Literally: #
- Tag: A label, a link.
What are hashtags? Really simply: they are links, created by users that assign a category to a piece of information. They are mostly used in social networks such as Twitter, Instagram and, as of last week, FaceBook. These platforms allow users to ‘tag’ their posts by adding the pound sign in front of applicable words in order to add them to categories.
Look at these two images of tweets I sent today; the first one does not have a hashtag and the second one does (note this is a graphic and not a working hashtag; though on Twitter it is clickable):
Did you find it? Of course you did – #pickles!
Why would you use hashtags?
Keeping in mind that hashtags are most often associated with social media, it is important to note that people use hashtags in two significant ways: as content creators (like me when I made those posts above) and as readers (like you when you read them). Both use hashtags for different reasons. The primary reasons are as follows:
How people reading content use hashtags
- Use hashtags to get a quick understanding of the most important topic/ topics in the post (you can learn that the second post is about pickles with a quick scan and finding the hashtag)
- Clicking on the hashtag will show them a bunch of posts on the same topic. If you want to find more pickle posts on twitter, you’d simply click the hashtag above and be taken to every post sharing the hashtag.
To show you the second part, I clicked on the #pickles hashtag on twitter and linked to posts about pickles:
How people writing content use hashtags
- Add hashtags to a post to help people know what your post is about
- They use them to join bigger conversations/ add their content to a larger conversation (like I did by joining the #Pickles conversation)
- This hasn’t been mentioned before and isn’t a main function but people sometimes add hashtags for other reasons, primarily:
- Humor/ levity. Imagine reading the following message: “Dropped an entire cake on the floor. #ImATotalKlutz.” While there may be relevant content in the hashtag #ImATotalKlutz, it’s more likely just trying to be funny.
- Context. “Ooops! Baked a cake at 450 degrees. #TooHot #StartOver” The author is letting us know that 450 degrees was too hot and has to start over – without using so many words (this is most important on twitter where a user can only use 140 characters)
- Emotion. “Just finished making my first wedding cake. #Proud #Happy” We all know that text does an awful job conveying emotion – some use hashtags to put an emotional context around the post.
Basic Rules of Creating Hashtags:
It’s easy to create hashtags! Here’s how:
- Any time you add a pound sign (#) in front of words on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and some other social networks, you’ve created a hashtag (note: your security settings are separate and this will not make your private accounts suddenly public)
- Hashtags cannot contain spaces (use initial caps to indicate new words such as: #ThisIsAnExampleOfInitialCaps (the first letter of each word is capitalized)
- A hashtag cannot contain punctuation
- Should be relevant to the topic at hand (you don’t want to add #food to a post that has nothing to do with food).
An example of using #Hashtags as a reader
Want to see who’s talking about #Pickles on twitter right now? You don’t need a twitter account, just click here: #PICKLES.
How to use Hashtags on Facebook – the basics
Facebook has just started to enable users to use hashtags.
Here’s a demo of using the Pickle #Hashtag on Facebook:
1) I typed in a message, including the #pickles hashtag in the post (it made it blue automatically):
2) I pressed, enter and the text became clickable (this is a graphic so you can’t click it):
3) When I (or one of my friends) clicks the hashtag, they see all sorts of #pickles posts:
See, this isn’t complicated! It’s just a way to find a bunch of similar posts on a given topic.
If you share a post/ status that has something about food in it, consider adding relevant tags such as:
So there you have it – an introduction to hashtags! In summary:
- Use the #sign to add a clickable category to your posts
- Click other peoples hash tags to see more posts like the one they shared
Did we miss anything?