The Wild And Wonderful History of the Hashtag (and tips for using it!)


 #ZOMG. It’s #Monday again.

Are your social media streams are clogged with the hashtag-bespeckled moans of the post-weekend world? Do you sometimes wonder how this tick-tack-toe board branched out from touch-tone phones into the world of digital media? Me too.

It turns out that hashtags weren’t invented to add irony to your Facebook posts or help you “trend” on Twitter. They were many things before being a part of the social media universe, and even when added there, they actually had a purpose: to help us find the conversations we’re looking for and stay on message once we do.

If Facebook’s recent introduction of the hashtag feels clunky and has you wondering if there’s even a point in using it for your business page or professional account, here are some tips.

1. Yes, hashtags are (slightly) different on Facebook and Twitter.

As ArabNet reports: “The first difference between Twitter and Facebook hashtags is that the latter enables you to control the audience for your posts, obviously. Accordingly, killing a post, whether hash-tagged or not, will delete all its related comments.

“Another difference is that sharing a Facebook hashtag will not cross the borders of your friend list to reach the outside world, unless you choose to share it publicly.”

2. They can magnify marketing efforts on a platform that’s usually very private.

Unlike Twitter where anyone can access anyone’s stream and all tweets are public, most Facebook users do everything they can to share their feeds and profiles with a select group of friends. Facebook hashtags transcend these walls, however. If people pick up and use your hashtag, it gives you access to a cross-section of Facebook that was previously inaccessible.

3. Monitoring is key.

Flinging your hashtag out to the masses is one thing, but it only matters if you can prove that it’s drawing them into your conversation. That means you’ve got to have a way to track it. Just like many social media platforms now offer tracking for Twitter hashtags, it’s likely that similar tools will begin to pop up for Facebook hashtags as well. In doing so, “brands will have the ability to listen to conversations about their products, positive or negative, simply by following the hashtag feed as opposed to Wall monitoring. Brands should evaluate their legal guidelines toward clickable hashtags, and if and how they’ll respond to complaints that aren’t directly posted on their wall,” advises IgniteSocialMedia.

And before you go, be sure to check out this neat #infographic about the hashtag’s history. (See what I did there?)

history of the hashtag

Image via quinnanya/Flickr

5 Ways Twitter Can Help Freelancers Find New Work

Twitter. Love it or hate it, this social media  tool helps connect online communities, breaks news stories, and drives thousands of visitors to the world’s best websites 140 characters at at time.

But with all the other things we have to do, should freelancers really be wasting their time on Twitter?

Short answer? Maybe. Depending on your industry and personality, Twitter can be a completely free way to attract new clients and generate buzz about your business.

Here are 5 easy ways to turn your tweets into new work without spending all day staring at your stream:

1. Choose a handle and bio that reflect your professional self or business.

Your handle is sometimes the first and only thing that a potential clients sees. Choose your business name if you can, or something that reflects your expertise, like @CopyQueen or @NeverStopsCoding. Don’t leave your bio blank, and try not to be too cute with it. Twitter users want to be sure you’re worth following, and if you’ve got a bio that’s empty or full of personal likes/typos, you’re making  a bad first impression. Save that stuff for your personal account.

2. Remember that Twitter is about conversation, not followers.

Marketing gurus want to convince you that building massive lists of followers will exponentially increase your chances of retweets, clicks, and ultimately sales. That might work for celebrities or international sites like Mashable and TechCrunch, but its unlikely to have the same effect for John Q. Freelancer. But you have an advantage that those mega-tweeters won’t ever have–you’re a real person, free to use your account to connect with current and future clients in a personable manner. Ask questions, post interesting links, and provide suggestions when others ask for help. If someone likes your short reply, they might pay you for your long answer.

3. Follow #hashtags related to your industry.

If you’re using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage your Twitter account, set up a new stream following keywords in your industry. This is a great way to find people who are asking questions or seeking advice on a topic related to your business. It’s also a great way to find other like-minded Tweeters to follow and chat with. Some tags you might want to try include: #jobs (such as #designjobs, #writingjobs, etc), #jobs, #projects, and so on.

4. Find and follow thought-leaders in your industry.

Search your favorite blogs or professional sites for Twitter handles to follow. Engage these experts publicly by asking advice or commenting on something they wrote. If you become a Twitter friend that they trust, they just might recommend you the next time they encounter a project that’s not right for their business.

5. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself.

When Twitter first exploded, everyone cautioned against being a one-note Tweeter. While it’s true that you should avoid sounding like a used car salesman every time someone mentions needing a web developer, there are times when it’s right to offer your services. If you see someone looking for professional help, offer to discuss their project offline, or direct them to a satisfied client for whom you completed similar work. Offering free quotes or consultations is another non-invasive way to say, “I’m here and ready to work for you” without being annoying.

Have you ever landed a job (directly or indirectly) because of social media? Share your experience in a comment!


Image Credit:

Non sequitwitter

An oldie but a goodie archived post…

Please enjoy a select few of my tweets.  You’d think that due to the volume, this was several weeks’ worth.  It’s not.  It’s just the last 14 days.  Apparently, my followers enjoy these types of tweets much more than the informational or educational ones.  #perhapsIshouldhavebeenacomedian.

@SMacready Latte to go: $4, Drive to Cohere: 50 cents, Spare underpants: $2, Having a hired wedgie giver on call: Priceless (@reusmith)

Waiting for @caligater to get to my desk (6 feet away) so we can get a snack.

Partied like it was 1985 with photos @coherellc

coworkers are competing in a which word represents each letter of the alphabet in military @michaelclingan is winning @coherellc

@petechee smart phones…. that’s all we ever use, unless you count Skype. Then I guess it’s a world of smart phones and skype-like things.

Productivity dips by 300% due to Google Pacman interactive logo.

Impressed at how easily my hair went into a side ponytail for Old Town’s 80’s party today.

@juliesutter “childrens’ concerts aren’t a priority know what is? Sewage.” -Leslie Gnope, Parks & Recreation.

@juliesutter Almost bought a cropped black vinyl jacket with grey sweatshirt hood. Yeah, it was pretty sweet..I mean rad.

@LaurieMacomber Does there HAVE to be a reason to have mass mustache hysteria?!

We’re doing Halo (the song) mitigation @coherellc this morning. We’re all plugged in and blasting different music.

Trololololo! @rockstar_ @juliesutter and @ecosphericblog are here and we’re admiring our new Tears for Fears poster @coherellc.

Successfully resisted offer of cupcake, tho I can feel it staring at the back of my neck.

You might be wondering about the donkey video on the Cohere youtube channel. That’s fine.

OH at an event this morning “Angel, I’m wearing a bathing suit under my clothes.”

@RedheadWriting Well, your “rat sputum” data is going to be off the charts tomorrow.

@juliesutter History channel investigating “glowing, flying, headless pig.” Maybe that keychain does unlock a parallel universe.

I can call them toll free….thanks Kleenex, b/c I worry about tolls so often on my cell phone

@CleverCubed Let me know if you need to borrow my slide rule#architectjokes

Feeling proud of this chicken icon thing I just invented (**>

Spent morning idolizing thought of having a backyard chicken, spent afternoon learning that chickens are kind of a pain in the ass

@mrembolt It was a nightmare, hair follicles felt all strained!

Tabs I have open: gmail, calendar, twitter, Cohere, Facebook, Pandora, and 5 minute hummus. Can anyone analyze that?

I have generalized excitement disorder today.

@DorseyPromotion I know…I like how you can just see Lindsay’s eyebrows.

New Product Dev @coherellc today. Adhesive pockets to attach (to bare skin or clothes) when you need a place to put your hands @alliebrosh

**special thanks to Cohere coworker, Julie Sutter, for the title of this post.  Brilliant.

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