The hash key ‘#’, once something only really used by Software Engineers like myself for programming code, scientists and their wonderful ways and mathematicians for calculations only they truly understand, has become one of the defining aspects of the early 21st century in the form of the hashtag. But what are they really all about?
Hashtags are a form of Meta data tag that is used to group stories or messages together in order to make them easily accessible by the audience. In English this means that hashtags label whatever they are attached to with a tag that can be used to group messages with the same label together.
Although they were originally used as far back as the late 1980s in very early internet chat systems it wasn’t until Twitter came along and became a worldwide sensation in 2007 that they became universal and Joe Average User became familiar with the technology. Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and even technology giant Google followed suit as their social networks become popular and successful but the King (or Queen) of social media, Facebook, didn’t make the move to incorporate the technology, until very recently.
It has been two weeks now since Facebook jumped on the hashtag bandwagon and I’m yet to see anyone actually use this new form of Facebook tagging to any real effect. Does Facebook really need the technology? To answer that question we need to put our business hat on for a minute (Go on put yours on, I’ll wait).
From Cadbury to your local sweet shop, businesses around the world have been waiting for this feature to be added to Facebook, it’s the marketing dream. With well over a billion active users, potential customers become easily approachable via hashtags. Even better is the fact that hashtags are free to use, the business dream.
Let’s take our wonderful website here, we are always looking to bring new people into our ever growing fan-base and one of our more popular focus areas is Wrestling News. How can we use the wonder of hashtags to help us interact with potential fans? Well a simple way would be to search hashtags such as #Wrestling, #WWE, #WrestlingNews and find some of the most popular hashtags which meet the criteria.
So we’ve done our research and found that #WrestlingNews is a popular wrestling hashtag on Facebook, this is our marketing start point. Now when we publish a wrestling related story on to Facebook we will add #WrestingNews on to the end of the post meaning that the post will appear on the hashtag timeline and every user who uses that hashtag is essentially adding a link to a page containing our post. So what we have done there is increase our potential wrestling fan-base considerably with very little effort and at no cost other than time.
From that very simple example you can see how marketing giants can take advantage of the hashtags we use and find potential customers with little marketing cost. It is for this reason that whether you love them or hate them the hashtag is here to stay.
Have you embraced hashtags and incorporated them into your Facebook posts?
Or are you one of those people who have helped cause the meme sensation that is “One does not simple use hashtags on Facebook” by hashtagging everything out of habit?
Let us know with the hashtag #TPoW on Facebook.