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Don’t Go Out Without a #Hashtag

Do you remember a time when this symbol # meant ‘number’? It wasn’t even widely used in UK English and I recall seeing “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 on Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” album and wondering what the ‘#’ was. It’s been lurking around on phone keypads for some time, again with little reason to use it, but suddenly, this oddball symbol from outer fringes of ‘Symboldom’ has become the most important social media tool bar none.

According to Costa del Sol social media expert Fiona Catchpowle, who is also known as #AskCyberGran, the hashtag “represents an important social media strategy, especially for small businesses.” Of course, to make it part of your strategy you need to know which hashtag to use and where to put it?

Twitter made the hashtag famous. With the limit of 140 characters to deliver a message, the hashtag became a shorthand way of connecting your tweet to other tweets about the same topic without having to use precious characters explaining that. It also enabled Twitter users to find the latest posts on a topic in real time.

But such was the popularity of the hashtag that its use soon spread to other social media and now Facebook. Google+ and others are awash with hashtags. So, what does Fiona mean when she says it can help small businesses? She says: ” The right tag can help drive brand recognition, boost advertising and increase customer loyalty.” For example ‘#PeppermintSpain’ after every post from Peppermint Spain will connect every post from us and make them easier to find.

Don’t forget to use a capital letter for each word in your hashtag and run them all together, for example #PeppermintSpainDesignAndMarketingAgency. That’s a rather long one – usually you try to keep a hashtag more succinct, such as #Spain2014 for events in Spain this year, or simply #Spain for anything connected to the country. Some social media events, such as “Throwback Thursday,” in which people post photos of them in previous years, has its own hashtag – #TBT.

Most commonly people place the hashtag at the end of a tweet or Facebook post, but you can place it at the front as in “ #PeppermintSpain social media tips” or you can place it in the sentence, as in “It’s #Sunny in Spain this week.” Anyone looking for mentions of “sunny” on social media would discover that message.

Some people like a bit of hashtag overload on their posts, but it’s recommended that you use no more than two. For example, to make sure that people find this blog via social media, I will add #Hashtag to #PeppermintSpain. Other alternatives would be #marketing or #blog.

So, don’t forget to add a hashtag to your social media whether you are on Twitter, Facebook. Instagram, Tumblr, or Flickr, or one of other channels that also support hashtag use. The # will bring people to your page. You can also make your own hashtags up and use fun hashtags that people want to share your post like #ManicMonday. Whatever you do with your hashtags, the main thing to remember is #WeLoveHashtags.