The hash symbol # that sits on top of the numeral 3 on your keyboard never had it so good. First, it was Twitter that popularized the hash symbol by creating hashtags; then it was Tumblr and Instagram; now it is Facebook. Hashtags have also started trending on mobile phones.
# What is a hashtag
A hashtag is a searchable word or phrase. It can be created by prefixing the symbol # to a name, phrase or group of words.
For instance, the hashtag for Indian cricket captain M.S.Dhoni can be #msdhoni; it can be #dhoni; it can be #captaincool.
The hashtag for “I hate work” is #ihatework.
# 3 Characteristics of a hashtag
- A hashtag is created when the symbol # is prefixed or suffixed to a word or phrase.
- There is no space between the symbol # and the word.
- A phrase or group of words are bunched as one word when converted into a hasthag. For instance,, #bestdelhidiscos.
# Why you should use hashtags
You should use hashtags for the following three reasons:
1. Create conversations: You want to build a buzz around Jaipur elections. Post a tweet using the hash symbol prefixed to Jaipur elections.
No party has an upper hand in #jaipurelections.
2. Join conversations: You can share your views on Jaipur elections by including the hashtag #jaipurelections in your tweets. Your tweets will get grouped with the earlier tweets on Jaipur elections.
3. Search terms: You may want to gauge the people’s pulse on Jaipur elections. Search for the term #jaipurelections. You will be able to browse all tweets on the subject.
This feature is especially useful for businesses. For instance, if I am the producer of the film Chennai Express, I can search for the keyword #chennaiexpress and find out what people are saying.
# How not to use hashtags
1. Long hashtags: You should keep your hashtags short. Don’t create a hashtag #whyidon’tlikechennaiexpress. The hashtag will be using valuable space in your tweet, and you will be forced to shorten your comment. The best hashtags are those that use two or three words.
2. Too many hashtags: There is always a temptation to use several hashtags in a tweet. The logic is that every hashtag is a keyword; and your tweet can feature in different searches. You are reducing readability of your tweet when you do so. Also, you are not part of any single, focused conversation.
3. Irrelevant hashtags: Your hashtag must be relevant. For instance, there is no point in creating a hashtag about the film Chennai Express that focuses on the video game Angry Birds.
#Angrybirds is a great game to paly on #chennaiexpress.
Such hashtags don’t add to conversation, and are ignored.
(Please make this article better by adding your insights on hashtags in the Comment Box)