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04 August 2014

The rebirth of the humble Hashtag

For years the hashtag was the symbol on your phone that was pretty unimportant. Then along came Twitter and the little guy was given a whole new lease of life! So here’s a quick low down on the life of the hashtag and how he can help you and your business out. 

Legend goes that in 2007, a web developer Chris Messina proposed, in a tweet, that Twitter begin grouping topics using the hash symbol. Twitter initially rejected the idea. But, like all great ideas, it rose again. In October 2007, citizen journalists began using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire, at Messina’s suggestion, to tweet updates on a series of forest fires in San Diego. By clicking on the link people could see tweets that related to the topic and get real-time information on the situation. The practice of hashtagging took off. Now users and brands employ hashtags to cover every thing from politics to entertainment.

A Quick Guide

  • People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their tweet to categorize those tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search. 
  • Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other tweets marked with that keyword.
  • You can’t use spaces or punctuation in a hashtag.
  • @ is very different to  #. If you put in @ifourdesign you’ll send a tweet straight to us. If you put in #ifourdesign you’ll be tweeting about us and will be able to get links to everything else that’s being tweeted about us.

So why should businesses use hashtags?

Twitter is a great way to get people talking about your products and services and also a great way of getting into conversations about current issues that are relevant to your customers. You can also see what your customers are talking about, what’s important to them and start joining their conversations.

Be specific: If you’re using a hashtag to join a conversation, make sure the hashtag is specific and relevant to your topic. If you’re talking about a heat wave in the UK use, #ukheatwave instead of simply #heatwave.

Keep it simple: Hashtags, like links, look like spam if they are used too often. Three hashtags should be the maximum on Twitter and Facebook, but you can get away with more hashtags on Instagram and Vine. And don’t hashtag the same word twice – it’s pointless and will make your message look messy.

Give context: A tweet that contains only hashtags can confuse people and certainly won’t help anyone engage in a conversation. If your tweet simply reads, “#happy,” your followers will have no idea what you’re talking about.

Perhaps the great thing about Twitter is that it’s cheap and easy to get involved with.  It’s constantly changing, so the best thing is to get set up and try a whole range of things to see what people respond to. Think of it as a little adventure into cyberspace! You never know what’s out there or what they might be saying.

If this is all new to you – start by taking a look at what we’re up to on Twitter. Give us a call on 01892 541111 e-mail mailto:hello@ifour.co.uk or tweet @ifourdesign you need a bit of help getting started.

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