The Rise Of The #Hashtag

Perspective on when, where, and why to use them

Blog - Hashtags

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I want to begin this post with a disclaimer.  I am not a social media expert.

And according to what I’ve read from Sonia Simone (the savvy editor at Copyblogger), Michael Hyatt (of Intentional Leadership) , and Gary Vaynerchuk (one of the most respected voices on the subject), neither is anyone else.

Considering Social Media is only 9 1/2 years old, and that it’s morphing faster than any other form of communication in the history of mankind, it’s clear we’re in its infancy.

And though I admit I’m not an expert, I am a keen observer.

One of the articles that was included in last weeks ICYMI post had an embedded podcast with Mari Smith discussing the use of hashtags.  After listening to it I decided to spend some time researching hashtags, and have come up with a list of ways that are considered most effective for using them.

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Brand Messaging

Hashtags can be a powerful brand messaging tool, if used with marked consistency.

For example, John Eason of John Douglas Eason Interior Design has begun to uniformly insert #JDEI into his Facebook status updates and Tweets, and while it’s not likely that anyone else will be using that hashtag with any regularity, it is likely that over time it will become recognized by those who follow him as a calling card.  Further, anyone who searches #JDEI on social media platforms will find a list of every post with that hashtag – meaning that if he continues to add images of products he considers synonymous with his decorating style, or pictures of his finished work, they’ll get an organic snapshot of his aesthetic.

You may ask why you would go to the effort of using hashtags this way when Pinterest might be considered a better way to showcase your style – and in some ways you’d be right to ask.  The difference lies in the numbers.  In July of this year there were 70 million active users on Pinterest, while Facebook saw 1.15 billion.

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Product Promotion

Let’s say you’re an upholstery firm, attempting to attract new customers. You should consider using the hashtag #upholstery, #chairs, or #sofas in your social media posts.  Again in an organic way people who search for those #’s will arrive on pages with all similarly tagged posts.  I did such a search on Facebook, and found literally hundreds of updates, with similar results on Twitter.

You might also consider using multiple hashtags in a row, effectively both telling a story, and expanding your reach by having your post show up in multiple hashtag streams.  For example, let’s say you’re John Lyle, and you’ve designed and produced a beautiful new shagreen console.  You might consider this kind of status update or tweet;

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Sensational new #shagreen #entryway #console http://lyledesign.squarespace.com/albert-console/

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It is important to note the above update/tweet is 95 characters long – so it’s perfect for both Facebook (which has no character limit) and Twitter (with its 140 character limit).  If it were to be longer than 140 characters;

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We’ve just introduced a new, incredibly chic #shagreen #entryway #console that would be perfect in any of your #interiordesign projects http://lyledesign.squarespace.com/albert-console/

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You would simply go to Bitly.com (a free service) and shrink the URL link (http://lyledesign.squarespace.com/albert-console/) so that you could bring it to under 140 Twitter character limit.

It’s also important to remember to compose tweets that can be re-tweeted in their entirely.  In this case John’s tweet should be no more than 122 characters, because his handle (@JOHNLYLEDESIGN) + 1 space + RT is 18 characters long.

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Monitoring Content

You may recall the post I wrote about monitoring content on the internet.  In it I talked about ways to learn if your name or brand has been mentioned.  The idea sprouted from a corporate wish to manage the fallout from negative commentary on the net.  If you haven’t done so yet, set up a Google Alert with your name or company name, it’s fast, easy and effective.  You may not think it necessary, but I think it’s an important tool for effectively managing your business.  Imagine if a disgruntled client said something damaging about you on a social media platform.  With a Google Alert you’ll know about it instantly, and be able to rectify the issue before it magnifies.

Hashtags can be used in similar ways.

Here’s an example of how I use hashtag searches to monitor content.  On my Evernote list of morning activities is a notation to search for these 7 hashtags on both Facebook and Twitter;

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#interiordesign
#design
#decoration
#socialmedia
#facebooktips
#entrepreneur
#technology

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I do these searches for several reasons.

First it gives me a daily snapshot of what’s been shared on each platform on those subjects.  Let’s say for example AD has announced its list of the AD 100, I learn about it in the #interiordesign hashtag search without doing a Google search for ‘AD 100’, or by stumbling on it in a news feed.

Second, I can monitor what’s being said about each specific topic.  For example, I can find out what people are saying about the latest Facebook news feed update in the #facebooktips feed.

And third, I can see what other design bloggers are writing about so I don’t repeat subjects, or so that I might consider a trending issue.  If you’re an interior designer you might search to see what kinds of images have been published on any given day.  If you’re a vendor – say a custom wallpaper manufacturer – you can see what your competition is up to in a single search.

Finally I’d like to share an incredibly effective way to see the results of a hashtag search if you’re a fan of RSS feeders.  As it turns out, each hashtag on each social media platform has a unique URL, much like a blog that you monitor the content on.  So if for example you want to track #interiordesign on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/interiordesign) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/search?q=%23interiordesign&src=typd) you would add those URL’s to your RSS feed and you’d get all the related content daily without doing an organic search.

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For Comic Relief

By now we’ve all seen someone post a tweet or status update with a comical or sarcastic hashtag. I do it all the time.  One morning Donald Trump came up in a list of ‘People You May Know’ on Facebook, so I shared a screen shot on my news feed with the hashtag #epicfacebookalgorythmfailure

It got people’s attention, and I got several comments in response.

You may not immediately see how using a hashtag like that might be effective.  The truth is, if the real reason to be on social media is to be social (and build a community) then humor has its place.

There are some problems that could arise when using comic hashtags.  On a personal page, denoting religious affiliation, political party allegiance, or seriously personal messages might be acceptable.  On the other hand, would you risk alienating potential customers by stating these preferences on a business page?

And finally, you may be interested in learning that hashtags on Facebook are privacy settings aware. Meaning if you use a #hashtag on your personal FB page, the only people who will be able to gain access to its related content will be those who are included in your privacy settings.  Hashtags on FB business pages, on the other hand, are accessible to everyone.

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Well, that’s a round-up of all the information about hashtags I could find, as well as a list of ways I utilize them.  It does bear mentioning that hashtags are now being used on Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest as well, so it’s an idea that’s growing in popularity.

Are you using hashtags in a different way to help promote your design brand?  It would be great if you shared your ideas in the comments section below.

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Written by CJ Dellatore

10 thoughts on “The Rise Of The #Hashtag”

  1. Since June 2010, every Tuesday we have shared education, inspiration, lead by leading experts using our hashtag on twitter. We have built a strong, passionate, and global community around the hashtag #IntDesignerChat. We are a twitter chat and the hashtag helps you build your brand and business. Yes, Twitter provides you with real time access to relevant conversations, communication with your audience, rather than to them. #IntDesignerChat is now a industry resource and weekly “crowdsourced webinar.” We’d love to have you join us.

  2. Very, very, very interesting. There’s just more to learn every day and lucky for us, we have you, Carl, to help us muddle through it. I’m going to take this post on my vacation and work through everything you said. Brilliant. Thanks!

    1. I really appreciate your positive feedback Carla, and I must say it is really rewarding to know I’m helping you make some sense of social media. Have a sensational vacation!

  3. Thank you for sharing your knowledge! I use hashtags but not in a very consistent way. Your article gave me some new ideas how to better promote my business and products. Love the evernote morning search as well!

    1. And thank you Bettina for the kind compliments. I’m happy to have helped. How are things ‘down under’?

      1. Not too bad! Winter has come back after fantastic warm days with 23 degrees. Today, 12 degrees and raining…brrrrr! But I still have a question in regards to your post. How do you add the Twitter serach URLs to your RSS feed? I am stuck with this. And I hear and read everywhere that RSS isn’t supported by Twitter anymore… Thanks for clarifying.

  4. I read this post and it was very helpful and I am commenting here, BUT this is not the norm for me. I never comment directly on the blog. I always read it, then return to the source, in this case, facebook and comment there because my comment will have much greater exposure there than here. Plus, all my information is there, here I will have to sign in, reenter information, etc. #signedafriend

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