People who are not “into” social media often seem puzzled by the #hashtag. Twitter made hashtags famous, but they are used in many other places today. Those of us in ministry could be using them more to advance our efforts on social platforms.
News, entertainment and sports programs often invite viewers, readers, listeners to respond to a question or a topic using a specific # on Twitter or Facebook. Then, they and we can follow the stream of responses easily. Every evening CNN’s #Crossfire invites viewers to answer a question related to the show’s topic and to use #Crossfire with it. At the end of the show, they show a graph with how viewers responded. Here is an example of one of their questions.
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) February 12, 2014
Hashtags are also used in Tweet chats. The weekly Tuesday evening (9 PM ET) Tweet chat about using social media to build church and faith hosted by Church Social Media keeps the conversation “together” using #ChSocM. They also provide a transcript of each week’s Tweet chat using the same hashtag.
Rebecca Murtagh in The Role of #Hashtags in Social Media and Search writes
Hashtags are an efficient method to find content related to specific topics, as well as the people talking about those topics.
Just as searches are conducted on platforms other than Google, Bing, and Yahoo, search also happens on social platforms. People search every day on Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, and other social platforms using words and hashtags with success.
When you optimize conversations, content, and updates with hashtags, they become more visible to others on social media platforms and search engines. A simple click or search for a hashtag will display those using that hashtag in conversation – instantly identifying an audience with common interests. The potential for using the hashtag is limitless and can be leveraged across platforms, or uniquely on each social platform.
If your parish posts something on Facebook or Twitter about #Lent or your religious community posts about #vocationdiscernment or your Justice Committee posts about #savingtheplanet using hashtags, others not in your network of friends and followers but interested in the topic, will find it. Your message will reach a larger audience–which is something we all want.
There are pitfalls in using hashtags and Rebecca outlines some of them in the same article listed above. I recommend that you read it.
The infographic below gives a good summary of why and how to use hashtags in Twitter, but many of the ideas transfer to other platforms. I found it helpful.
Please tell us how you use hashtags and if you will be using them more now. Thank you.