Octothorpe, pound, sharp, hash, are all names that the # symbol have been known by at some stage. In the social media world, the hash sign is attached to a keyword (a tag) to form a hashtag. Its purpose is to identify messages relating to a particular topic.
A hashtag when used on social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram becomes a searchable link; a way to find other content using the same keyword.
No punctuation marks nor spaces can be used in a hashtag, just one continuous alphanumeric word or phrase #likethis1
Hashtags are vital to building your network on a number of social media platforms, they give you a voice in a conversation that is already underway or allow you to start your own conversation. A hashtag could allow you to find potential volunteers, sponsors, advocates, experts, staff, donors or mentors more expediently than waiting around for those people to find you.
As with all social media activity having a strategy in mind when deciding on what hashtags to use is advisable.
For example, you are a Perth based NFP that delivers art therapy programs. You are passionate about the art scene. You head to Instagram and search #perthart to find local, like-minded people and organizations and see what they are sharing.
The content you find meets the criteria you set, so you use the same #perthart on some of your Instagram posts in the hope that these people will see your content. You make connections based on a common interest.
No one owns hashtags, and anyone can create one. So if you would like to start your own you can, then encourage others to use them when they share similar content. This method is often used for large events or promotions, like Volunteer Week #givehappylivehappy
Using multiple hashtags where possible is advisable as it allows you to reach or be seen by users with varied interests. Obviously platforms like Twitter with character limits are not conducive to vast quantities of hashtags so choose one or two. Platforms like Instagram are more suitable to multiple hashtags so use five to twenty. Facebook allows the use of hashtags, though the practice is not as widely used as on other platforms.
So get amongst the conversations and use hashtags, keep them relevant, create your own and follow currents trends. #good