One of my most interesting social media marketing moments came to me in the form of my mother recently asking me on Instagram; “why there were pound signs all over my posts”. It became a beautiful educating moment. Because let’s face it, for the less than savvy social media-ites, this is still a pretty weird concept.

Hashtags, or previously more popularly known as pound signs, number signs, or “that button on the telephone”, have been hanging around the social media world since Chris Messina decided to test their use as a grouping agent in 2007. His idea was to create a metadata tag that would draw users with similar interests together towards specific themes or content. Sounds familiar, right?

It should. Because once Twitter got their meat hooks into the concept and made it an active feature on their platform, it caught like wildfire in the middle of August. The social-sphere caught onto the idea and eventually other platforms like Facebook and Instagram started using them too, turning this novelty into a necessity for global communication. Hashtags are being used for everything from raising awareness for specific causes and providing updates on unfolding public-related situations to making political addresses more accessible to the masses. But more to the point – hashtags have become a vital instrument in every blossoming business’s marketing toolbox.

By comparison, tweets with hashtags show twelve percent more engagement than those lacking them. Those that include a hashtag and a link? They blow the little guys right out of the water. Having not only the highest engagement rate but also the highest conversion rate for turning strangers into customers. Take, for example, you own a flower shop and you have pretty much maxed out your current client pool’s potential for new business. A couple of well-placed #wedding #bouquet hashtags on an Instagram photo have the potential to reach an entire market of brides to be who have never heard of your shop before, but who are seeking flower options for their impending nuptials. Anybody who searches the hashtag #wedding or #bouquet will see your post, exposing your business to thousands of individuals across the digital world.

Brands are especially loving hashtags because of their cross-channel nature. We are using hashtags to guide people from twitter to facebook, from Facebook to websites. We can run large cross-channel campaigns using one common identifier. This simple symbol has become the global connector of the world wide web, and we have only just begun to harness the full marketing potential of it.

Hashtags are no longer just a means of categorizing posts or adding some flare to your online updates. They are the wave of the future and we are constantly finding innovative ways of using them to drive attention and public support to our brands. Let us use our hashtag skills to help you build your brand.

While creating social media campaigns and conversations, getting busy with the real work happens too often. Social Hero will be pleased to give you a free quote to help with your social media.