The hashtag permeates all facets of everyday life but nowhere is it more relevant than in social media. To help understand where to use social media hashtags let’s take a look back to the origin of the social media staple.
The History Of The Hashtag
The hashtag was originally called the octothorpe by Bell laboratories in the 1960’s. The inventors of touch tone technology added the octothorpe and the asterisk to their product but somewhere during the training of their first customers the octothorpe name gave way to the pound sign.
To add more confusion to the mix customers in the UK, who already had a pound sign for their currency, referred to the American pound sign as a hash.
The modern hashtag as we know it began in 1988. Internet Relay Chat (IRC), an early predecessor of social media networks, used the pound sign to communicate in different online channels based on a specific topic. IRC called their channels hashtags and the name stuck.
A longtime IRC user and early Twitter adopter suggested Twitter embrace IRC’s hashtag functionality but it wasn’t until the late 2000’s that Twitter turned hashtags into hyperlinks to follow conversations. As the hashtag popularity grew more social media networks incorporated it into their functionality.
Why Use Hashtags?
Why the social media hashtags history lesson? We’re surrounded by so many data points that it can be confusing to remember what the big idea is.
The hashtag is here to help foster and create community. If that is the guiding principle to your social media hashtag usage you will be successful. Like all aspects of B2B marketing, if you use hashtags to build value in your communities your hashtags pay dividends.
Where To Use Hashtags
Here are some common places B2B companies utilize hashtags to connect with their community:
- Trade Shows
- Product Launches or Campaigns
- Industry News
- Trending Topics
Trade shows frequently promote a hashtag for social media users to follow along during the event. This is a great opportunity to not only promote your company’s booth or trade show presence, but also add to conversations taking place around the trade show.
Product launches or campaigns are another great place to use hashtags to string together similar messages. As opposed to jumping on a current hashtag, this route has the benefit or crafting your own messaging and community from the ground up. While traction may be slower this way, your niche will be hyper focused and relevant.
Industry news is a wider net to cast which means more opportunities to gain traction. What’s the latest news or trends in your industry? What does your company think about that news or how does your business play a role in solving these new problems? These are great opportunities to help develop thought leadership through social media.
Trending topics are a great way to showcase your brand personality with the trending hashtags of the day. Rarely are these trending topics applicable to a B2B company’s specific niche but they are still a way to set yourself apart from your competitors.
There Is No One Size Fits All Hashtag Solution
Hashtags are part of your digital marketing strategy. They are not a silver bullet or one size fits all solution. Like any kind of marketing you will need to test to see what hashtag strategies on which platforms work best for your audience.