By Adam McLaughlin

So this is one of the most common questions I’m getting right now, something like ‘What is a Hashtag?’, ‘How do you use a hashtag?’ or ‘Where is the library of all of the possible hashtags so I can pick one to use?’ (true story), and since Facebook has now adopted hashtags which gained popularity on Twitter and Instagram, it’s time to fill you in:


What is a Hashtag?

A Hashtag is a ‘#’ sign (pound sign, number sign, and yes, I’ve head it called a mini tic-tac-toe) followed by a word or phrase like: #FreshIdeaWebsites or #Twitter.  This gives us a way to ‘search’ facebook or twitter based on topics that users have included a hashtag in their status simply by clicking the hashtag.  So, if you watch America’s Got Talent for instance, you’ll see in the right corner of the screen #AGT – the show’s initials.  They’re inferring that you can comment about what’s going on during the show, include the #AGT hashtag and also see what other users are saying about the show by searching for #AGT.


How do you use a Hashtag?

Technical Use: start with ‘#’ and follow it with your topic – no punctuation or spaces are allowed, so if you wanted to hastag Social Media, you would hashtag #SocialMedia – if you hashtag #Social Media (with a space) then only ‘social’ would be part of the hashtag search.

Applicable Use: Use a hashtag to connect with others having a conversation (ie. using #AGT while America’s Got Talent is on).  There is a great opportunity for you to also find prospective clients, for instance I often do a search for #WebsiteDesigner or #WebDesigner or #WordpressHelp to involve myself in conversations where I could offer some expertise and possibly win a new client.  You can use this technique in reverse, for instance “Does anyone know a good #plumber in #WdskOnt ?” (that’s the hashtag for Woodstock, Ontario, depending who you ask…) Hashtags can also be used as a sub-comment, or a passing remark following a statement like “I hate Monday mornings #CantWaitForTheWeekend” (As a rule of thumb, I capitalize each word for ease of reading, rather than #cantwaitfortheweekend)


Where is the library of all of the possible hashtags so I can pick one to use?

There is no hashtag library.  Just make one (or two) up, find one that someone else has posted and use it to join the conversation, or (on twitter on the left on desktop, bottom of the app on mobile) look at what’s ‘trending’ – a list of popular hashtags which can be organized by your geographical region or other specifics you put in.  This is a great way to join conversations that are happening in your area, that may involve people you’ve never met.


I’d love to hear how you’ve used hashtags for business.  Leave a note below and give some insight for other readers as to what’s worked best for you!

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