What’s a hashtag? Well, on Twitter – and increasingly everywhere else – a hashtag is a word or phrase (with no spaces or punctuation) preceded by the hash symbol (#), which gives users an easy way to communicate around a single theme.
The use of hashtags in social media originated back in August 2007, when designer Chris Messina asked his Twitter followers how they felt about using the pound sign (#) to group conversations on the micro-blogging platform, and became the first person to use the hashtag in its modern capacity.
While hashtags began on Twitter, they have now spread to Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, and Facebook.
The beauty of hashtags is that it makes your post, message or photo searchable by any user on that social network, not just those that follow you.
So how can you use hashtags to your advantage?
Reaching Your Audience with Hashtags
Did you know that there are more than 2.5 billion Facebook posts (Business Week), 400 million Tweets (Washington Post), and 45 million Instagram posts (instagram.com) each day?
That’s a lot of noise. How can you get your message to stand out and reach the people that matter?
Align yourself with your industry: Search the social networks for a #keyword – like #RealEstate, #Realtor, #NewHome, #HomeSearch or #house – and see what’s being said. Then, use that #keyword in your post to increase your exposure.
Jump in on a conversation already happening: You can increase your exposure by posting about a trending topic. Just be sure you’re clear on what the #trend really is – do some research on the topic before associating your post with it.
Find out what’s going on locally: By searching your #city or #county, you can find out a lot about what’s going on around you. If someone mentions they’re moving to your #city, then it might be a good time to introduce yourself.
Promote your event: Do you have an open house coming up? Use a specific event hashtag – like #JuliesOpenHouse – to promote the event, tag real-time posts, and crowd source photos.
Start keeping an eye out for #hashtags on your favorite social networking sites, and see how people use them. You’ll be surprised at what can be effective!
Avoiding Hashtag #Fauxpas
Here’s some tips for using #hashtags correctly!
#DoNotStringTooManyWordsTogether: While you can put multiple words together (be sure to omit spaces if you do), but keep it short and capitalize the first letter of each new word. It makes it easier on the eyes!
#Do #not #tag #every #word: If you tag everything, people will lose track of what you’re saying. When there are a lot of tags, your post looks cluttered. If you want to use a lot of tags, put them at the end of the post.
Don’t use a trending tag in your post unless it actually has something to do with the topic: Just because you want to market yourself doesn’t mean you should include a tag having to do with the latest celebrity gossip (unless you’re commenting on that gossip of course).
Be sure to check your spelling: Not many people are talking about #raelestate, but quite a few are interested in #RealEstate. Including hashtags in your post is a way to add your thoughts to global discussions. Misspell a tag, and no one will be able to find it!
Where to Use #Hashtags
You can use hashtags on a variety of social networking sites, but which of these sites works the best with hashtags?
Twitter, Instagram and Vine are deeply ingrained with hashtags. It’s part of the fabric of their software, and makes it very useful to search for posts. The three services couldn’t be more different: Twitter is for conversations, Instagram is for photos, and Vine is for short videos. But all three can be used in your real estate business, and hashtags will help you build an audience.
You can use hashtags in Pinterest, but it’s not absolutely necessary. When someone searches for “real estate” on Pinterest it pulls from both the description and hashtags.
That leaves Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook. All three of these sites provide a variety of social networking services, and they all added hashtag support as an afterthought.
Google+ probably has the best integration, since it automatically adds hashtags to posts, so that users can browse related content by clicking on a post of a particular topic. Google+ is also catching up in the rankings, now at #2 behind Facebook in active users according to market research firm Trendstream.
Both LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to add hashtags to your posts, but users just aren’t using the feature. Facebook added the feature in June, but new research shows that the hashtags aren’t effective in making content go viral.
EdgeRank Checker, a Facebook analytics service, recently completed tracking of 35,000 posts by 500 pages on Facebook to study the impact of hashtags. They found that Facebook hashtags can actually have the opposite effect of its intention – less viral reach than posts without hashtags.
Meanwhile on Twitter, researchers found that tweets that include hashtags are twice as likely to be retweeted than those without.
Hopefully, this will help your #SocialNetworkingEndeavors in the future!
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