What are Hashtags For?

Oh, hashtags. They elicit many different emotions, from #annoyed to #overit to #whatsahashtag.


But hashtags are for categorizing your content. It gives information to the algorithms on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, so they can put your content in front of people interested in the topic or niche.


Whether you enjoy them or not does not take away from the fact that it's best to have hashtags as part of social media strategy. It may be helpful to know: just where did hashtags come from?



Where Did Hashtags Start?


A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#). Believe it or not, hashtags were first used on the internet in 1988 in a group chat. Hashtags were used to label topics and conversations, to connect them and make them easier to find.


They were used to categorize or label content. Really, nothing much has changed.


From the early days in group chats to the first hashtags on Twitter they have become a part of the vernacular and our every day social media experience.



How Do Hashtags Work?


Hashtags work by labeling content. Your hashtags categorize content and tell Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn and Twitter where to put your content.


In other words, hashtags help determine who sees your content.


As consumers, everyone at Cat's Cove loves coffee. We engage with content related to coffee on TikTok. The TikTok algorithm tracks this. Therefore we are unlikely to be shown content about tea. Instead, the algorithm will show us more content that's about coffee and coffee-related content.


A way for the algorithm to know that a post is about coffee is to use #coffee and similar hashtags.



How Do I Use Hashtags?


In general, hashtags are used in captions (text component) across all social media platforms. Use hashtags on Twitter, use hashtags on Instagram, use hashtags on TikTok.... you get the picture. You can start using hashtags by adding them to your posts. If you post something on Twitter, you can add #hashtag1, #hashtag2, etc., to the end of your tweet. On Facebook, you can add tags to your status updates.


Hashtags are like adding descriptive words of your content to your content. Hashtags help place content in the neighbourhood where your content belongs. The people looking for your type of content live in that neighbourhood.


Here's an example of how to use hashtags:


Let's say you're a tree farm that sells Christmas trees. You want to place yourself in the "virtual" neighbourhood of people looking for a Christmas tree. You should need to get into the "neighbourhood" of people who celebrate Christmas.


If you use hashtags from different types of trees like maple and apple trees you won't be doing yourself any favours. If you use #summer or #Halloween because they're trending, you might get more reach from hashtags, but probably not from people interested in buying a Christmas tree. You need to make your hashtags work for you, not against you.


So if your tree farm posts are properly categorized with hashtags, the algorithm will put your post about Christmas trees in front of the people who are engaging with content about decorating for Christmas and Christmas baking recipes.



Bottom line? It pays to use hashtags. (Literally).
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