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What is the purpose of a hashtag?

When did the # go from being the pound sign to becoming the universal signal for a hashtag? The answer is social media? And that probably leaves you wondering what is the purpose of a hashtag? Why do people use them in their social media posts?

Although hashtags can appear to be nothing more than funny and witty things you add to the end of your social media posts, they do serve a purpose. Meaning they are here to say. Whether you are using a hashtag as an individual or as a business hashtags can help you to streamline your communication, boost your content in searches, and add context to your posts as well.  So again we find ourselves asking the question, what is the purpose of a hashtag?

What is the purpose of a hashtag? Let’s Start at the Beginning. 

The hashtag first appeared on Twitter in 2007 and since that time has been integrated into other platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Universally all hashtags start off by the “#” symbol followed by a word, phrase, or group of words. This word or set of words rather cannot and does not contain spaces or punctuation.

Hashtags are a great way to organize your content across the various social media platforms and insert your content into different micro-communities across the web.

Why should I use hashtags? 

So now that you know the origin of the hashtag and what purpose they serve, the next question you should ask yourself is why you should use them. The answer is obvious. Hashtags make your content discoverable online and picked up by other accounts. Let’s use an example to demonstrate this. 

If you are a new small business owner opening a store when you post a picture of your open sign without any hashtags that picture will only appear to users that follow you. Now if you take that same picture and in your caption include some hashtags like #shoplocal #nowopen #smallbusinessowner your post will now be inserted into three separate micro-communities online. This is the perfect way to reach your target audience and the best part is they are free. 

How do I find hashtags? 

Thinking of hashtags is easier than it sounds. All it takes is a bit of creativity. Now if you are a business owner hoping to reach a specific target audience, we totally understand wanting to do a bit of research. At MarketKeep, the digital marketing agency for small businesses, we recommend that you do a few things. First, be sure to create a hashtag list and save it to your computer. That way to can reference your list when thinking of posts. You can also look for websites that cultivate hashtags. A good one to look at is, www.all-hashtag.com