Social Network Throwdown – Hashtag Edition

By Sun Lee biz hashtag

Back in the days, the hashtag was a fad; it was something cool kids did with their tweets. Now when you see a hashtagged word on any social network – or blog, or photoblog, or news editorial for that matter – you know what it means, whether the site enables it or not.

What exactly is a hashtag and what’s its purpose, and more specifically, why do SMBs need them?

Believe it or not, the first ever hashtag did not originate from Twitter but from IRC (Internet Relay Chat) networks – i.e. chat rooms for forums and channels. Category keywords were preceded by the pound (#) symbol to indicate relevant topics that the individual message belonged to.

The purpose of the hashtag was and is still to label single blurbs, tweets, messages – you name it, as part of a wider category, and SMBs have them to thank. What’s an easier way to target a demographic, at such low invasive levels, and at zero to minimal costs when people are already grouping themselves for you?

Of course you’re comfortable with Twitter by now, and almost all of you have read your social daily news on Facebook’s recent hashtag click-through grand opening; we’ve even mentioned it before in another post, we were that excited!

But did you know that Google+ had already launched their hashtag abilities back in 2011?

I know, you’re thinking, “It’s dead space out there! Google+ is the ghost town of social network sites.” Let me make it quick and direct you to here, here, here and here. Basically, Google+ is outpacing Twitter, it connects strangers better than Facebook, and customers are on it whether you are or not.  Google+ is a child of Google, oh and, GOOGLE+ IS A CHILD OF GOOGLE (SEO gold to be blatant). PHEW. Okay, onward! (You really should read the articles, by the way).

This is why Google+ hashtags should not go unused, but the moral of the story is that they have functions that Twitter or Facebook don’t offer. Here is a concise infographic (from yours truly) of hashtag functions per social network and their main differences:

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