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Hashtags

The Journey from Pound Signs
to Social Media Essentials

Do you remember when the # was just a symbol for pounds? 

It’s quite a story. I distinctly recall a time during a web development class when referring to the # as a pound sign led to a moment of confusion. My students, accustomed to seeing it as a hashtag, were initially puzzled. It wasn’t until I wrote it on the board that they realized, “Oh, you mean the hashtag!”

This experience humorously highlights how rapidly terms evolve in our digital world, especially in the realm of technology and social media.

The Strategic Role of Hashtags in Social Media

Hashtags have evolved beyond mere symbols; they now play a crucial role in organizing and amplifying social media content. Like digital labels, they help categorize posts, making them easily accessible in the ever-expanding sea of online information.

The Ever-Evolving Nature of Hashtags

However, the role of hashtags continues to evolve over time across different platforms. For instance, LinkedIn recently announced plans to deprecate hashtag functionality to streamline the user experience. While increased simplicity can benefit engagement, it also means recalibrating hashtag strategy to adapt to these changes. I plan to continue leveraging widely recognized hashtags for general discoverability while refining niche hashtags to target my specific professional community directly. Staying informed, flexible and intentional with emerging platform shifts is key.

Effective Hashtag Usage: From Broad to Specific

  1. General Appeal: Begin with broad hashtags like #Travel to reach a wide audience.
  2. Focused Interest: Narrow down to more specific groups with hashtags like #SoloTravel.
  3. Targeted Engagement: Use highly specific hashtags such as #SoloHikingTrips to connect with a niche audience directly.

Bringing It Home: The Pizza Hashtag Story

To illustrate this strategic layering concept, let’s delve into a fun example involving everyone’s favorite – pizza! Starting with the general hashtag #Pizza, I aimed to catch the attention of all pizza enthusiasts. Then, I shifted to #ThinCrustPizza, targeting fans of a specific crust style. Further refining to #ThinCrustPepperoniPizza, my focus moved to those who love a particular topping. And finally, the highly specific #ThinCrustPepperoniGreenOlivePizza reached my fellow niche thin crust, pepperoni, and green olive pizza connoisseurs! This journey from a broad to an ultra-niche hashtag demonstrates the refinement approach in social media engagement.

The Power of Niche Hashtags

While niche hashtags have narrower appeal, they enable profoundly meaningful interactions by allowing content creators to connect intimately with their specifically intended audience. The goal is not mass reach but cultivating depth in relationships.

Actionable Steps for Hashtag Mastery

  1. Start Broad: Use widely recognized hashtags for initial reach and visibility.
  2. Refine Strategically: Gradually introduce more specific hashtags to target particular interests.
  3. Go Ultra-Niche: Use extremely narrow hashtags to facilitate deep 1:1 engagement with your niche community.
  4. Evaluate and Pivot: Continuously track performance and tweak hashtags for optimal visibility and connection.

The Ever-Evolving Nature of Hashtags

However, the role of hashtags continues to evolve over time across different platforms. For instance, LinkedIn announced plans to deprecate hashtag functionality to streamline the user experience. While increased simplicity can benefit engagement, it also means recalibrating hashtag strategy to adapt to these changes. As Mark Williams concisely puts it, “Hashtags = topics. Not trends, topics to follow or search tools, just a way of defining topics without them being confused with from keywords.” I plan to continue leveraging widely recognized hashtags for general discoverability while refining niche hashtags to target my specific professional community directly. Staying informed, flexible and intentional with emerging platform shifts is key.

Note – the date on Mark’s article is 2022 which means LinkedIn started heading down this path almost 2 years ago!

The transformation of the humble pound sign into an essential and adaptable tool for strategic amplification reflects the dynamic nature of digital communication. Mastering the art of hashtags, from general awareness to niche community-building, remains pivotal for creators to maximize visibility and authentic engagement in our ever-evolving social media landscape.

Citations

(Williams, Mark. “Hashtag Deprecation.” LinkedIn, 9 Aug. 2022, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hashtag-deprecation-mark-williams/)

Blueprint Your Path

Putting It All into Action:
Your Hashtag Tracking Doc

As you traverse your hashtag journey, a crucial next step is creating a master tracking document organized by level listing your strategic tags in use across networks and content forms. Document wide-reach general tags, mid-level niche tags, and your signature ultra-niche hashtags. Record platforms utilized and metrics over time to optimize visibility.

This reference allows efficiently embedding relevant hashtags into new pieces to link emerging content into your broader ecosystem. Like a mapping web, it connects topics across courses, social posts, and resources by identifying aligned keywords to intentionally cross-reference related concepts for the community.

By diligently tracking high-visibility hashtags already recognizable alongside personally coined niche phrases, you help followers intuitively tie themes together through your unique lens as they deep dive into previous gems resurfaced. This amplification through interconnected frameworks fuels referral both to and from your applications as followers appreciate the cohesive perspective.

Invent, arrange and utilize personalized niche hashtags to stand out while strategically anchoring community growth to wider pillars of existing knowledge. Mastering this mapping cultivates know, like and trust in your abilities as both pioneer and guide across spheres of understanding. Chart onward; meaningful intersections await!

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