If you are a social media beginner, hashtags—or linked phrases with a “pound” symbol in front of them—can be confusing to understand.

Simply put, a hashtag labels content so other users on your preferred social network can find your content. They are commonly used during industry conferences, to identify viral topics (#MayThe4thBeWithYou), or to keep track of world events such as the earthquake in Nepal.

To participate, you only need to follow a few simple rules:

  1. Use the # Symbol: To make your hashtag work on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, you must always put a pound symbol in front of the word or phrase you want to link.
  2. No Spaces: If you are using multiple words in your hashtag, do not space them out. If you do so, only the first word connected to the pound symbol will be linked and be searchable by other users.
  3. Add to the End of Messages: This is not a rule you need to adhere strictly to, but it is common for your hashtag to be added at the end of your tweet or post.
  4. Don’t Pollute: If you choose to use a hashtag, keep your posts and tweets on topic. No one wants to filter through unrelated content.
  5. Double Check Meaning: Don’t assume a hashtag represents what you think it does. (#ForeverRoyal isn’t about feeling noble or a statement about a royal family, it’s used mainly by KC Royals Fans, for example)

Of course, you can always create your hashtag for a company event or a cause you care about. Here are a few quick tips to ensure you make a hashtag your followers will use:

  1. Make Sure Your Hashtag is Original: There are a lot of hashtags being used every day. Make sure the hashtag you’ve dreamed up isn’t being used by other users for an entirely different purpose. You can confirm this by doing a quick search on Twitter or Facebook.
  2. Keep Your Hashtag Short: The original birthplace and most popular social network to use a hashtag is Twitter where you can only use 140 characters a tweet. By keeping your hashtag short, you increase your chances of it being used by the people you want to reach.
  3. Keep it Memorable: Creating a hashtag is useless if no one can remember it. Make sure the hashtag you create is related to the topic you wish to discuss and follows rule number two.

As always, the best way to start learning is to start doing. So get on your social media account, and start #gettingnoticed.

I've been blogging, marketing, and playing with Wordpress since before I could drive. Thankfully, someone is willing to pay me for this.