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What’s with the pound signs everywhere? You know that symbol “#” over the number 3 on the keyboard that looks like a Tic-tac-toe game board. We used to call it the “pound sign,” now it’s hashtag this and hashtag that.

Watch a TV show lately? There are hashtags constantly displaying on the bottom of the screen. If you visit Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Gawker, Google Plus, etc., you will see hashtags in use everywhere.

Hashtags can be one word or several words strung together with no spaces preceded by the # sign. Their purpose is to give a unique identification to the content in which the hashtag is included. It’s a way to group together items with a common theme.

The use of the # symbol in front of words began popping up on Twitter as early as 2007. Twitter popularized the concept in July of 2009 by making any word with the # sign in front of it a hyperlink. Thus the hashtag was born. Twitter further validated it when they published “trending topics” by showing the most popular hashtags right on the front page. Now many social media sites have adopted the hashtag to group like content and track trending topics.

Here are some important things to know about hashtags.

  1. They are made up and anyone can make them up.
  2. No one owns them, unless you get them trademarked.
  3. You should capitalize the first letter of every word (makes it easier to read).
  4. Some are generic (#BestPlaceToDine), some are very specific (#WeAreBC).
  5. When you click on a hashtag, it redirects you to search results on that site.
  6. When you search for a hashtag on a site like Twitter or Facebook, you will see all the postings on that site that have referenced that hashtag. It’s an indexing methodology for that site.
  7. It’s an easy way for sites to track trending topics.
  8. They are free.
  9. If you make one up (or you think you made one up), do a search for it first to see what’s out there already. You will be surprised.
  10. Don’t overuse them in tweets, blogs, ads or Facebook posts. No more than two or three per item.
  11. Hashtags don’t work on smart phones (yet), but they still work on the sites you are posting to from your phone.

Can hashtags be useful in your business? The answer is, most definitely. You should create unique and relevant hashtags for your business and promotional activities. In addition, you should be building a raving fan base of dedicated satisfied customers.

When you promote something on your website, a social media site or in an ad, make sure to use your hashtags. Then track the results. Measure what works and what doesn’t and constantly adapt to those that are most effective.

Use them especially if you are doing a civic-minded or charity event in your community.

When you build a raving fan base, you want them to reuse your hashtags in their postings.

Marketing experts have figured out new and innovative ways to use these hashtags to promote products and services. Have you?

#HappyHashtagging.   ■

As CEO and president of WECnology LLC (, Wayne Croswell is a “complimentary technology advisor” for independent tire dealers. Croswell can be reached at or (603) 249-5530.

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