A rehash of #hashtags Posted on

Hashtags have been around for so long that they are now a uniquitous aspect of the Internet, but they weren’t always so.

This week is the anniversary of the first ever hashtag use on Twitter. Way back on August 23rd, 2007, Chris Messina proposed using the pound sign as a way of grouping conversations.

It may have started off as a simple proposal, but flash forward and now hashtags get millions of views, collect immense conversations, and are used by everyone from individuals through to the world’s biggest companies. The right hashtags can multiply your engagement rates and get your content in front of more people.

How should you use hashtags?

Not use to using hashtags? Well, it’s not that hard. Here’s some tips for how to use hashtags, what hashtags to use, and a few things to look out for.

#StartConversations

If you’d like to collate and categorise your own content, come up with a consistent hashtag. This can help your followers see at a glance what your post is about. See this example from the History Trust of South Australia.

#KeepItSimple

We all know that tweets are valuable real estate, so you don’t want to waste half of a tweet on a super long hashtag. Instagram has more room to move, but you still don’t want to get too complicated. Keep it short and understandable.

#HashtagsArentLegallyBinding

This should go without saying, but we need to say it anyway. There have been too many times that companies claim that using a particular hashtag is an agreement that the company can download and use your content. The simple act of using a hashtag can not be seen as a legally binding agreement. Despite what Disney seems to think.

There are two main reasons why hashtags aren’t legally bindng.

  • When using a social network you agree to the network’s terms of use, individual users can’t tack on their own conditions. Duh.
  • You cannot apply an agreement to users using the hashtag when there’s no reason to believe that the user has even seen your statement. Double duh.

#BeDifferent

When picking a hashtag, make sure to do your research and choose something unique. You might think a hashtag fits your organisation perfectly, but if it’s being used by some scantily clad Instagram influencer your message is unlikely to make it to the top.

#MakeItConversational

This more like a tip than a directive. We find hashtags are better when they fit conversationally into posts. #ChoosingAHashtag that fits into a sentence will save you tweet space and look less commercial.