Have you ever wondered how hashtags came about? Or how they influence your post reach in different social media platforms? I know I did, and while undertaking a research on Twitter for a previous article I happened upon interesting information about how hashtags were created. The story behind it grabbed my attention and I wanted to learn more about hashtags. If you feel the same way, keep on reading.
Hashtag is a social media tagging tool which helps us categorize topics. It’s quite useful for finding content that you’re interested in, outside your social media friends and groups. Hence, it boosts post reach and engagement because a hashtagged phrase or keyword is viewable to anyone interested in it.
Who created it?
In 2007 Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Chris Messina suggested using the number symbol (#) to categorize and group together topics on Twitter. What he didn’t know is how popular this tagging system will become around the web and beyond.
The idea of this concept was inspired by the use of the pound symbol in Internet chat (IRC) for naming chat rooms. The name ‘hashtag’ was as well inspired by history. According to Oxford English Dictionary (OED), where the word ‘hashtag’ was officially added, the name possibly origins from the word ‘hatch’. OED says “Its 16th-century origin is a French word meaning ‘an axe’, from which hatchet and the use of hatch meaning ‘to mark a surface with close parallel lines to represent shading’ also derive. The hash sign (#) only dates from the 1980s and is probably also from this use of hatch. ”
How and where to use #hashtag?
There are few hotspots for hashtags around the web – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+. They all integrated it into their platform with an equal meaning and usage but different effect on post reach.
Reading some hashtag stuffed posts around social media feeds could be very annoying sometimes. I’m pretty sure some people don’t even know why they use it. That’s why it’s important to learn how to implement hashtags in each social platform in order to get something out of it. Overall, by using trending hashtags and the right number of them in a post will help you achieve higher engagement.
Using trending hashtag phrases could boost your reach very efficiently because people are inclined to browse social media by hashtags nowadays. However, trying to manipulate your reach by applying trending hashtags to unrelated content might play a bad role for your page image in the long term. It could also increase the number of people that hide or report your post and even lead to people unliking or unfollowing you because they don’t like being scammed. Using unrelated hashtags just to increase your engagement might get on people’s nerves. So choose your keywords and topics carefully, you don’t want to upset the Internet ‘trolls’.
Now let’s analyze the influence of hashtags usage on social media reach and engagement as well as the importance of their optimum number in a post. Quicksprout prepared an infographic that provides great analysis on each social platform. Here are the highlights.
Tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement (comments, clicks, favorites) than the ones without. The optimal amount of hashtags that will bring you the benefits is two. There’s 21% higher engagement on tweets with 1-2 hashtags. Using more than two hashtags drops interaction with an average of 17%.
When Facebook started using hashtags it didn’t work well for a while. At the very beginning posts with hashtags brought only 0.80% median viral reach. As time passed by, Facebook pages also started benefiting from hashtagging. Currently the most engage promising number of hashtags used in a Facebook post is 1-2, bringing an average of 593 interactions per post.
Instagram is the ‘hashtag paradise’. The engagement is highest when there are 11+ hashtags in a post, e.g. 79.5% interaction per 1k followers.
Google+ has integrated in their system hashtags which apply automatically to your posts. Of course, you’re allowed to change and edit them as you wish. By adding hashtags to your posts and comments you double your chance to be found on Google+. In fact, if you type in a hashtag search you will get both normal search results and relevant social posts.
Hashtags aren’t just random highlighted words we see all around the web. Their use brings the benefit of expanding your organic reach by categorizing your content. It’s the least you could do to grow your page.
If you decide using #hashtags in your future posts, use this information to get the most out of them. I assure you it will help.