The Essentials of Hashtags For Small Business

best_twitter_hashtag_toolsWith the recent news that Facebook may introduce hashtags to its platform, it raised the question for many of my SMB owners: what exactly is a hashtag and how do we use it?

The “pound” or “number” symbol (“#”) is a hashtag, and it is an easy way for Twitter users to categorize Tweets that share a common topic or belong to a particular group. The hashtag is used to highlight keywords or topics within a tweet, and can be placed anywhere within a post.

There are several advantages that come with using hashtags. These can be used for casual or business purposes to increase awareness, as well as improve your reputation online. As social media grows, particularly Twitter and now Facebook, users need an easy way to search for the information they want. Hashtags 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.  Another opportunity also exists to target trending hashtags with ads, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d like to simply share a few tips with you to get started in the world of hashtags.

  1. Before deciding on a hashtag, users should do some research to see what keywords are already being used. To do this, you’ll need to do a hashtag search on Twitter. It is imperative that you make sure your hashtag is not already being used for an unrelated topic, or your business could find itself in an embarrassing situation.
  2. Effective hashtag use requires careful thought, and unless it’s about a really popular topic it may go unnoticed.
  3. It’s important to keep hashtags brief, as the words and numbers prefixed with the “#” symbol are included in the 140-character limit per tweet.
  4. Grammar inside of a hashtag is important to note as well. Hashtags cannot contain any spaces or punctuation marks ( , . ; ‘ ? ! etc.). Your hashtag will end wherever a punctuation mark occurs.
  5. Hashtags should be directly related to the topic. For example, users who want to set up a group for their running group might want to use a hashtag label that includes terms that group members would recognize, like #TorontoRunningRoom.
  6. Once posted, keep your expectations in check. You can’t just decide you want a hashtag and expect it to trend easily, if at all.

When properly used, Twitter hashtags can be a powerful social media tool to entice relevant individuals to follow your account and share information that will strengthen the main topic, as well as further your business promotion and trend tracking.

Do you use Twitter in your social media?  If so, do you use hashtags?  What type of success have you had and would you recommend using them?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.


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