Published On: 08/06/2014

Twitter -Hashtag -Blog -ImageWith the pervasive presence of social media in all facets of business, many in marketing and advertising still find themselves bemused by the suddenly all-important hashtag. Some ask why we use it, some ask when we use it, and others ask how.

Well, for starters, the hashtag, which originally derived from Twitter and eventually became a vital marketing tool on Instagram and Facebook as well, is primarily a way of unifying content under a sort of thematic umbrella. If you browse the hashtag, all posts that have featured the same one will appear, and, consequently, you can taxonomically isolate any topic of interest.

A hashtag should be unique enough so as to be somewhat attributable to your brand, but also broad enough to reach an audience larger than the one you already have. For example, pop culture blogger Perez HilHi

Hilton will place a hashtag in front of a celebrity’s name when linking to a post on his site about them. As a result, anyone perusing the hashtag “Beyoncé” will find Hilton’s post along with several thousand others pertinent to her. When #Beyonce is trending, meaning it is being used rapidly by many users at any one point in time, as it often is during live televised performances, the visibility of his posts is amplified even more so.

Hashtags can be etched into larger campaigns though, too, as Diet Coke has done. Rather than simply including #ShareACoke on their twitter feed as a promotional device for the company’s new bottle design, they’ve integrated it into billboards, transportation ads and television commercials. As a result, Diet Coke drinkers are incentivized to engage with the brand on a multitude of platforms.

The hashtag expands the reach of any post beyond just those who follow you, and is used heavily as a tool to generate a larger, site-wide discourse on any given topic. It is also, though, a way to individualize your brand, nominally codifying any catchphrase or slogan, making it inseparable from your mission. Red Bull frequently used #GivesYouWings, and a hashtag can give your tweet, Instagram or status update wings, as well.