#Hashtags are trending. They are a social media convention that simplifies searching for a given topic. This makes life easier for both the casual user and for brands to engage in inbound marketing via social media marketing.
A hashtag is a single word phrase that is prefixed with a hash (#) character. They are entirely user generated phrases. Anything can be a hashtag. You can abbreviate a phrase or you can concatenate a bunch of words into a single hashtag. For example #fb stands for Facebook, while #justinbieber stands for Justin Bieber.
Hashtags are Trending
While you can make up your own hashtags it is very useful to use hashtags that are well known and trending. Trending refers to a phrase that is one of the most used phrase on a social network (usually Twitter) at a given moment. Trending topics usually relate to something going on in television, sports, etc. At the moment of this writing #virginiatech is the most trending hashtag in the US, and #newtwitter is trending most trending hashtag Worldwide.
Social Media Network Support
Hashtags first gained popularity on Twitter, but have since expanded to most social media networks. You can use hashtags on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube (comment search). Currently, Facebook and Flickr do not support hashtags. Since Facebook allows for public posts to be searched the lack of support for hashtags is very odd. One would expect support to be coming soon.
Social Media Marketing
Hashtags have become a huge part of social media marketing. It is very simple to add a hashtag for your product or event into the branding. By including a hashtag you can later connect with individuals that are using your product/service. This is a very simple, cheap task that offers a great return on investment.
Hashtags are simple and easy to understand. Go forth and incorporate them into your next branding effort. You’ll be glad you did.