I first became familiar with the # when training as a veterinary nurse. The symbol appeared frequently as the practice saw a high number of emergency patients and there were the inevitable broken legs from dogs being hit by cars and the broken jaws and pelvis of the high-rise syndrome cats.
Happily I now associate # as a hashtag and enjoy using it on social media, a little different from seeing it and knowing I was heading into theatre for a 3-4 stint. I find on social media people usually see a # and either love it, avoid it or misuse it, so what is it, what does it do and how can you use it?
What is a # ?
Simply put a # is a form of metadata. i.e. it provides data on other data. While that sounds quite dry and dull it’s a very specific way of saying that a # used on social media links all posts that use that #. # terms are also picked up by search engines so can help with your SEO.
It’s an easy way to link people with similar interests or to raise awareness of events or issues without it being focused on an individual account or page.
What is trending?
It is usually the content of a # that you will see “trending”. Trending describes the list of the most popular topics on social media sites. It can be a single word, a phrase or a name. It lets social media users see what is popular on their platform at that time. It can help spread messages quickly which, like my previous blog on viral posts can be really beneficial.
Is a # beneficial to me?
Using a # is quick and easy and can create different communities within your followers and attract new followers. It saves you setting up new accounts for sharing new products or information yet you will still be able to be found on social media and using SEO – yes you can Google #s.
It can be great for short term sharing of information – like having a stall at an upcoming summer fayre or a promotion on preventative health care. I use #planetrvn on social media to link my posts and others use it too to promote what they are doing in the ventures world. It also makes the posts less about me and my account as a person, its a community.
How do I start one?
Choose your message and put a # in front of it – it’s that simple. But make sure your message is easy to understand and not easily confused with others. Avoid the basic pitfalls of:
- Bad spelling – Facebook you can edit posts on – Twitter you can’t so that will live with you forever (deleted posts don’t disappear entirely either) and people then can’t find all the posts
- Typos – as above a typo will make the # look poor and hard to find
- Punctuation – #’s don’t like punctuation and it will stop linking letters and numbers, meaning #no.1petcare will become just #no – not a great #
- # already in use – check especially with commonly used words or initials. Your message will be lost Google your intended # as well as searching on social media
- creating words you didn’t intend to – Susan Boyles album launch # was #susanalbumparty which doesn’t read well when put together
- piggy backing on popular # – some companies have done this and it doesn’t end well. We know that #strictly will trend most weekends over autumn in the UK as the BBC have Strictly Come Dancing on and it’s a show where viewers vote for contestants. Yes, it’s popular but it’s not really vet related – unless Noel Fitzpatrick is in this years contestants. Posting something about flea treatments with #strictly usually won’t win you any favours!
Managing your #
Do remember to head into your # (just click on it) and check whats going on. This means you can make sure it hasn’t been hi-jacked, but also you can respond to comments and re-post. This has the effect of connecting you to more followers and boosting the frequency that your # is seen, as well as creating a community.
#plan, #create, #enjoy
Using a # well can really expand your horizons on social media and it is a great way to increase your SEO. Avoid the pitfalls above, plan what you want to do and enjoy! Join me on #planetrvn to see how it can work.