Why do Hashtags exist and what is the point of using one? It seems with the advent of Instagram, the hashtag and its use has been confused.
The origin of the hashtag started on Twitter. It was created to organise tweets and allow people to join or follow a conversation, using keywords. In time, the function has moved across platforms to Facebook, to less effect, and to Instagram, where it is especially prevalent, however, seems predominantly less effective.
How does a hashtag work? To use a current issue example on Twitter, if you were looking to find out about the FBI Investigation involving President Trump and FBI Chief James Comey, you can use the keywords through the popular hashtag #FBIinvestigation or #Comey and you will see a running commentary of conversation, related to the topic. You’ll see reports from news vendors, and public opinion from people who all have an interest in the topic.
For Twitter, the hashtag is super important. With a rolling newsfeed, “on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year” (internet live stats). The hashtag provides a way to filter through a mass of communication and get what you need.
The Instagram Hashtag
On Instagram, I’ve noticed it is used less effectively, or if I may be so bold to say, incorrectly. I’m constantly surprised at the way people hashtag. On Instagram, rather than using keywords to categorise a post or hyperlink, it is used to express an opinion or reaction. However, as with all cultural phenomenon, it is evolving. For example… A Mother posts a picture of her baby taking its first steps. Uses the Hashtag #MyLittleAngelsFirstSteps or #SoProud…So, what’s wrong with that?
A keyword hashtag is added to categorise your post. Categorising your post will make it easier to find later and make it easier for others to find. Is your profile set to private? If so, I have to ask, why are you going to the trouble of adding hashtags? No one will find them anyway.
If your profile is set to public, the question you need to ask yourself is, do you want your post to be found? By adding a hashtag you are opening it up to be discovered. And if so, how relevant is the keyword or phrase you’ve chosen? In this case, how many people are actually searching the term #MyLittleAngelsFirstSteps? Actually none. However, if the mother had added #MyLittleAngel you would see a list of 252,193 posts using this same hashtag with a corresponding image and the image would turn up in a search with this large group.
Hashtags, are not usually something YOU have made up. They are a popular word or term the general consensus is using. For example, if you were to add the following common hashtags to your posts you would become part of a much larger group of posts i.e. #Instadaily – 272,801,164 posts, #NoFilter – 191,741,865 posts, and more.
Within marketing we use hashtags to sort and filter images for a campaign e.g. #DigiGroundCommunityEvent – all images uploaded and tagged with these hashtags, by staff or attendees to the event, when searched, will show all the photos taken at the event and in one place. Everyone with the hashtag then has access to the photos and in the future, it will be a great way to retrieve these images again. Not to mention, it’s a great way to measure user interaction!
Just like this, you can use a hashtag to sort and find images for a social occasion such as, a holiday, wedding, anniversary, birthday or christening. The benefits of doing this mean you will gain access to a host of images taken by the attendees and have a keepsake of the holiday or event. Just make sure you advise people of what the hashtag will be.
Unfortunately, as well as not understanding why they are hashtagging, I see a lot of people hashtagging without adding a space between words. Something like this #Therocks#Sydney#VividSydney becomes a useless group of words with no function as the hashtag loses its hyperlink ability. So, always remember to add a space between a hashtag so you can find your photos again. Without a working hashtag, you won’t be able to attract new followers who may be searching the topic or looking to follow someone who posts about topics in which they’re interested.