#Hashtag You’re It: A Guide To Kick-A # Signs


Who knew that little # sign would work its way into our lives in such an important way? A once non-factor symbol on the keypad, the hashtag is now helping us sail through social waters with ease and grace.

Well… some of us use them with grace. And some of us have not yet figured them out.

This guide is here to help!


In the 12th century the lovely # symbol appears in music, indicating #sharp.

And according to this article in the New Yorker,

The story of the hashtag begins sometime around the fourteenth century, with the introduction of the Latin abbreviation “lb,” for the Roman term libra pondo, or “pound weight.” Like many standard abbreviations of that period, “lb” was written with the addition of a horizontal bar, known as a tittle, or tilde (an example is shown above, right, in Johann Conrad Barchusen’s “Pyrosophia,” from 1698). And though printers commonly cast this barred abbreviation as a single character, it was the rushed pens of scribes that eventually produced the symbol’s modern form: hurriedly dashed off again and again, the barred “lb” mutated into the abstract #.

Fast forward to 2007, and the first hashtag was born on Twitter as a way to organize tweets by Chris Messina. And would you believe that some people thought this idea was, “too nerdy”?!

In most recent news, using hashtags in a Google search will now result with G+ posts. Pretty cool, right?

Tips For Doing It #Right

So now that you’ve got a little background … let’s move on to best practices. It’s critically important to understand and know how to use hashtags if you have any interest in getting found.

Some rules:

  • Hashtags cannot have any spaces
  • Hashtags do not support symbols or numbers
  • Make hashtags easier to read by capitalizing letters of new words (EX: #ilovehalloween is better read by making it #ILoveHalloween)

Some suggestions:

  • Use hashtags to follow trends, like #BreakingBad or #Obamacare (simply place your search term of choice into the search bar and BOOM!)
    • Check out Hashtag.org to see what’s trending in real time
    • Use www.facebook.com/hashtag/ then just include the word you’re looking for search for hashtags by URL
  • Don’t create extremely “custom” or crazy hashtags unless you don’t care about getting found and are just making a point (EX: #ILoveEatingSkittlesInTheRain)
  • If you DO want a custom hashtag, like ours #ThinkConversation, be sure to check if it’s available and then register the custom phrase to you/your business on Twubs
  • Be careful about over using hashtags. Each social platform has limits!

Still unsure about best practices? Check out Twitter’s Best Practices for Hashtags

Hashtags And Social Biz

So how can hashtags expand your presence on social media? Simple:

  1. Use relevant hashtags in posts to get found/get better reach
  2. Use your custom hashtag to see what kind of traction your business is getting in the social sphere
  3. Promote your specials and events with hashtags
  4. Boost SEO with hashtag use

Are you using hashtags on your social media platforms? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

photo credit: danielmoyle via photopin cc

Brooke Ballard
Like many of you, Chief Digital Strategist and Founder of B Squared Media, Brooke Ballard, has seen a fundamental shift in business due to social media. How do businesses take advantage of this? Where do they start? Is social media for everyone? In-the-trenches online media experience helps B Squared Media answer these questions for companies seeking to formulate successful social strategies. Using tactics developed in her yearlong honors thesis study, Brooke helps bright and innovative entities develop social strategies around content, community, conversation, collaboration, and conversion. Simply put: Think Conversation, Not Campaign.™ Click here to subscribe to my mailing list
Brooke Ballard

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