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A hashtag (the # symbol) is a type of Keyword / Meta Tag / Label marker, that is intended for use on social media and microblogging websites such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. Their purpose is to highlight important words / phrases and to assist individuals with their searches on social platforms, similar to how keywords assist website owners with placing their websites in search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. The difference being that keywords are not seen on a website as they are placed into the coding and are intended for the search engine spiders (the program that scans your site to see where it should be placed on search result pages and under which topic) and not for the website visitor directly.
A hashtag on the other hand, is a part of a visible post and looks like this #Hashtag. The hashtag, otherwise referred to as the number or pound sign, looks like a tic tac toe board and signifies to the social network, microblogging system, and search engines that your post has a specific topic of interest. This symbol has been used as a symbol of interest and importance in programming since 1970, it has also been used in messaging systems to signify where the message you are typing should be sent to.
Hashtags help your post to be marked as a post of interest and it helps other people find your post when they are looking for a specific topic, such as #dogs. When using hashtags on the social media and microblogging websites, you can click on the #Hashtag to be given a search result of other posts within the same topic on the website you are using.
Hashtags have been used for social activism, sport events, tv shows, movies, and other topics of interest and importance, with their most popular usage beginning on Twitter. Twitter referred to the linked hashtags as 'Trending Topics' and posted popular trending topics on their homepage to help users locate conversations that are of interest to them so that they could join in.
How to use a #Hashtag Correctly:
In the Internet world, there is a set of rules and guidelines for everything, including the usage of hashtags. They can be inserted anywhere within a sentence, before the sentence, or following it.
The number of hashtags in a single post is just as important as the type of hashtag you use. If you use the wrong hashtag, or too many, you could be marked as a spammer or even end up with your account banned.
One hashtag is used when marketing a post as being part of a specific conversation or topic. Two hashtags are ok when you are adding a location to your conversation and 3 hashtags are typically seen as the 'absolute maximum'. If you use more than 3 hashtags it frustrates other users / website visitors and is seen as 'misuse'. This is true for Twitter who warns that adding hashtags to unrelated tweets, or repeatedly using the same hashtag without adding to a conversation, could cause an account to be removed from the search results or even suspended.
A hashtag is always used as a single word, spaces or symbols in a hashtag will not work. Capital letters are often used to help others read multiple word hashtags but do not effect the purpose of the hashtag. For example, #TheWalkingDead - this hashtag refers to the TV Series The Walking Dead, if you don't capitalize the first letter in every word it will not harm the usage of your hashtag, it simply makes it easier for others to read.
If you are interested in knowing if a hashtag you are using is also being used to tag other post of interest to you, you could use https://www.hashtags.org/ to search for your hashtag, although this site currently ranks hashtags used on only Twitter, it can give you a good sense of what hashtags are being used and how.
Leave us a comment below, share your thoughts and experiences with #Hastags and let us know what you think about this article.