#Hashtags — Why Use Them?

Have you wondered, “Why do I keep seeing a pound sign in front of words on social media?” Or thought, “Why are young adults, teens, and children calling ‘#’ a hashtag?”

Let’s explore what a hashtag is, how it got started, and the pros and cons of using one.

Merriam-Webster describes a hashtag as “a word or phrase proceeded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text.” By using a unique hashtag, you can keep a conversation going about a particular topic and follow what your online audience has to say.

It’s hard to believe, but the hashtag was first used almost 10 years ago as a way for users to group their tweets on Twitter! Over the years, the use of hashtags has grown beyond Twitter to other social networks and blogging platforms. You can now use hashtags to categorize posts on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, and they can be used throughout a post on social media — at the beginning, the middle, or the end

Of course, there are two sides to every story.

The Pros of #hashtags

Branding

When done right, #hashtags are a way for agencies and organizations to brand their posts. If you have multiple accounts for one platform, these little hashes can create cohesive branding and creative across your various accounts. LeapFrog Solutions uses hashtags such as #LFScareers and #MakeYourMessageMatter to help with our branding on social media

Promotion

Use a #hashtag to promote an upcoming event or conference across social media. LFS recently attended the 26th Annual Government Procurement Conference. Organizers encouraged exhibitors and attendees to post on social media and tag photos using #2016GPC, which allows them to not only follow that hashtag, but also retweet or repost what others are saying. Those who weren’t able to attend can follow the hashtag to see what the buzz is about. It’s also a great way for the media to see what’s going on.

The Cons of #hashtags

Ownership

Not one person, company, or organization owns a hashtag. This can be troublesome if you use a hashtag and another person “hijacks” it in a way you did not intend.

#everything

All you have to do is put a pound sign in front of a word and — BAM! — you have a hashtag. Making it easy to abuse them and not even know it. Whatever you do, do not hashtag #every #word #in #a #post. It is simply #annoying and #useless.

#theend