I get asked this question all the time. Are hashtags important? The answer is a resounding yes… and then no, and then another yes. Hashtags are important on certain platforms, others, they don’t really serve much purpose. To really explain the use of hashtags, I’ll have to give a brief explanation as to the purpose of hashtags on some of the most common platforms.
One of Twitter’s main features was the ability to use the pound sign, followed by a key phrase to connect with a global conversation. The beauty of Twitter was since hashtags were such a new concept people typically had no idea how to use them. This gave way for people who could figure hashtags out quickly to become “Twitter Famous”, gaining millions of followers in incredibly short periods of time.
Once Facebook realized how well the concept of hashtagging was catching on, they tried implementing it into their own platform. Even though functionally, they work the same way as on Twitter, to this day, hashtags serve little purpose on Facebook. Where Twitter had been developed with the function of hashtags in mind, Facebook was developed around finding people and content by searching for them. The two concepts didn’t really mesh very well, and unless you actively seek out hashtags on Facebook, they really don’t offer much value to the general user.
Instagram on the other hand, was an app developed post-Twitter, that realized the potential of hashtags and the global conversations they can produce. Insta-devs also realized that nobody was really doing photo-sharing well. It just so happened that being able to label your photo with relevant keywords worked pretty well, and as hashtags could be used globally, these keywords soon became vast photo albums with collections of similar photos from every corner of the globe.
In summary, whether or not a hashtag is useful depends on how it was developed into the platform. If it was an afterthought, it’s not likely going to benefit you much. However, if the platform was developed with global engagement in mind, it’s a good chance hashtags are your best chance at growth.
Stay tuned for our next blog post where I’ll show you how to find relevant hashtags for the platform you’re using.