First, I’m going to answer the most commonly asked question by marketers who aren’t familiar with social networking. What is a hashtag? A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the UNIX hash symbol or more commonly known to others as the phone pound sign. The hashtag is used on certain social media for finding like phrases and/or words so people can easily find others with the same interests. The hashtag has become so popular that people also use it in phrases where it will never be used in social media and some people have even started to use it in normal sentences while speaking.
For this little exercise I’m going to just use either facebook or twitter as the example so you can familiarize yourself with why and how to use a hashtag.
Open either facebook or twitter and in the search field type #networkmarketing. Notice that it shows where other people have used the words network marketing in one big word with the hashtag. These might be great people to follow if you’re trying to learn more about the business side of network marketing or you’re looking for a product to buy or even people to prospect. Now type it without the hashtag. On twitter your results might be a little similar, but facebook goes a little crazy and adds tlds (top level domains) or other unwanted verbage to your text. By using the hashtag symbol both Twitter and Facebook know that you are using something specific.
It is also used by companies to promote products or to get a group of people together who are familiar with the phrase to start a trend. Phrases such as #LifeIsGood are used by people wanting to express how much fun their lives are. Sometimes people make up irrelevant ones that no one will ever search, but can be used to stress a point or be amusing.
The sky is the limit on what you can use for a hashtag. If you want to know what is popular on certain sites, you can find lists of popular hashtags:
For Instagram you can use: http://top-hashtags.com/instagram/
For Twitter, just look at the side bar of your twitter profile or visit http://www.hashtags.org/trending-on-twitter/
For facebook I haven’t found a reliable source because it just doesn’t seem that popular to hashtag your facebook items as of yet.
Should you use random hashtags that mean nothing to people? I guess it depends. If you’re trying to make a statement then I would say do it, but if you are trying to group like words together and your word or phrase is obscure then no one is going to find the keywords. Using hashtags is a growing trend that doesn’t seem like it is going to go away. If you are searching for prospects or customers it might benefit you to search for hashtags related to your products. People looking to lose weight might put #helpmeloseweight or #IAmSoFat just for fun. Search for #mlm or #NeedAJob to find more niche people. Get creative when searching.