The symbol # placed before a word or phrase is called a Hashtag. It is used to mark keywords or topics in a social media post. Hashtags are a way to group content and create discussion across social media. By creating Hashtags, users are able to direct their content into groups or discussions amongst large audiences. Hashtags have become the single greatest way to maximize your content exposure on Twitter and Instagram. When you use Hashtag, large audiences are able to follow and find your content without actually being your friend or follower. This feature becomes especially powerful when used for branding purposes and marketing campaigns across multiple social media channels. Hashtags allow you and your followers to search and organize content by relevance and trending topics.
Nike recently launched a massive social media campaign Winner Stays, leading up to the World Cup in Brazil. By hashtagging #riskeverything Nike was able to create a massive community following. Everytime someone clicked #riskeverything or tagged something #riskeverthing, they were directed into Nikes social community built around the World Cup and their Winner Stays marketing campaign.
Lets take another example and apply it to something more simple. Lets say you are a small business and you sell flowers. Everytime you post a new picture of your flowers, you make the hashtag #flowers. What this does, is anytime anyone clicks on #flowers or searches for #flowers, they will see your post, regardless if you made the hashtag or not. By hashtagging your content with #flowers, you put that content into a community with the same hashtags.
Here is some quick advice from Twitter on how to use hashtags and what they are:
People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.
Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets marked with that keyword.Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.
Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.
If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet
Don't #spam #with #hashtags. Don't over-tag a single Tweet. (Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.)
Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @HubNami.