The Power of Hashtag, and how to use it
|Illustration by The Hindu|
What is Hashtag?
In essence, it is the easier, most user-friendly version of markup language that helps you “talk” to the internet and “teach” the machine what your post is about. Normally Search Engines use the HTML tags to figure it out but with hashtags, anyone can basically tag their posts to a topic or category which the user considers relevant.
The hashtag trend first started in 2007 when people started using the hashtag #wildfire while tweeting about a wildfire broke out.
With even News media relying on Twitter updates for covering major events like election results, the act of searching news on Twitter using hashtags should not come as a surprise even to the biggest critics of social media.
Power of Hashtag, in Blogging context only
Coming back to “how did it all change”, let me tell you a key thing about myself – I am not a popular personality, never was and never will be. I am an extreme case of a socially awkward introvert, who opens her mouth only to express her opinion on controversial topics which doesn’t really go well with many. So as you can understand, a 30-year old, married opinionated introvert woman is not the ideal recipe for social media success. Most of my Instagram followers are friends and acquaintances who themselves hardly check the app once in a month, but most of the engagement I get is from people I do not know. The key to it is Hashtags!
There is a key difference between Facebook (or Orkut from our generation or Google Plus which nobody uses for what it is) and the likes of Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest – Followers. Though Facebook is now trying to be the Jack of all trades by introducing followers, stories and all other concepts from the new generation app, we are more familiar to the concept of “friends” than “followers”. So, basically when someone sends you a friend request, you need to accept that for them to see your feeds, and for you to see theirs. Both of you will feature in each other’s social media circle. That is not the case for Twitter or Instagram. Here you have followers and the people you follow. The social validation game that we 90s kids started, has been taken to a whole new level now by the new Gen teenagers. The “cool-factor” now has a formula which is, number of followers/ number of following. The greater the ratio, the cooler you are. Now, I’m too old to be in this game, but as a blogger, I need visibility and engagement on my posts. How do I reach people who are active on Instagram? People I don’t know, people not on my “friend list”, not even “friends of friends”, or alumni group? Well, “hashtag,” says “Hii”!
Using hashtags you can increase your reach multi-fold, and as more and more people start following topics rather than people, the engagement on your posts become less and less dependent on your followers count.
Well, that’s the ideal situation, practically, people still follow profiles more than hashtags, which is why follower counts are important and having a popular personality helps. Good news is if people like what pops up from your handle regularly on relevant hashtags they follow, they may actually visit your profile, see your page and start following you. So you get a follower who doesn’t know you personally, but liked what you posted online – isn’t that the most rewarding feeling for a blogger?
The power of hashtags is not limited to just getting the likes and retweets. Here are some lesser known yet more useful ways you can leverage them to cross-promote your blog or business.
– Get Featured: Some influencers with large follower count also give an additional incentive, a chance to feature in their profile with proper credits. Use those hashtags if you feel they are relevant and tag those accounts. If you have 100 followers and that account has 10000, a chance to get a feature on their account increases your visibility multi-fold. As an influencer offering this opportunity you get a free content
– Catch attention of brands: Use hashtags to tag the brands to come to their notice or to simply let them know that you are endorsing their product. A lot of hoteliers and brands use follow their brand hashtags as well as those of their competitors for remarketing strategy. When they see you using the brand hashtags and see the engagement on those posts of yours, they will start seeing you not only as a fan user but also a potential influencer
–Use on sponsored posts: So let’s say you did all that and have started getting offers from brands for collaboration. Bloggers can then use hashtags like #sponsored on their posts be it on Social media or on their actual blog post itself , thus saving the time and space for a long disclaimer. Adding this within the visibility frame of the users make you a more trusted influencer. In some countries the disclaimer is a mandatory legal requirement too.
Did you know about hashtags on LinkedIn. Agreed, this is not for bloggers, but some of us also have a full-time career that earns us our living. So this is for your life beyond blogging.
Spammy Hashtags – the kind of which calls for instant unfollow
So what’s the right way to use hashtags?
Since Instagram is a highly visual medium and is optimized for mobile usage, just consider hiding your hashtags from the users. So on the mobile phone the use sees only your beautiful photograph and you catchy caption. Now only if they are really interested in keyword research they might scroll down and find your hashtags, which is fine. When you hide those hashtags from sight, as a content creator you are not spoiling the user experience, but at the same time, you are able to speak with the machine learning algorithm in the background telling it what your content is about.
This was my first post to share my learning about the art and science of blogging in a modern age. I hope you got one good idea from here which you can implement to take your blog to the next level. Surprisingly, I got some ideas while writing the post itself. I plan to add another post in the series about back-links and authority. Would you be interested? Let me know in my comments – you can as well tell me “It’s not your domain Sinjana, get back to writing itineraries”, I’d take that.😊
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This post comes on Week3 of September in#MyFriendAlexa Challenge, a challenge that helped me connect with a wonderful community and inspired me to start this category “Blogger’s corner” to share my limited knowledge. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter