by James Councill:
At International Training we have some very accomplished, long-time dive industry professionals with years of diving experience. These same divers will be the first to tell you how the diving industry has changed dramatically over the last 25 years. Unfortunately, if you do not keep up with how an industry or any business for that matter is evolving – you will get left behind. It is the intent of this article to educate some of our more distinguished members about one of the new emerging trends in our ever-changing social media world.
The trend we are referring to is the hashtag (#). A hashtag is any word or phrase with the pound/number sign preceding it, for example, #scubadiving. For the purposes of this article, “hashtag” will be used as a noun and a verb (i.e. you can hashtag just about anything).
Hashtags can be used in a variety of ways, to accomplish many different things. One obvious result of using a hashtag is: it turns the word(s) or phrase into a clickable and searchable link. This was initially designed to provide a label or organizational category to social media content. So when we add #scubadiving to a post about the Best Places in the World to Scuba Dive, the post should appear along with any other posts/conversations with the same hashtag, #scubadiving.
So you might be asking yourself, why use a hashtag? It allows you to become part of a larger conversation about scuba diving as well as make your content searchable to others who may be interested in joining the same conversation. This is the very basic use of the hashtag, and it has evolved greatly over the years, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
First let’s review some #DOSandDONTS.
Don’t use spaces. There are no spaces in hashtags, for example, the correct way to hashtag scuba diving is #scubadiving. If you try to hashtag scuba diving like #scuba diving, then the social media platform you are using (Facebook, Twitter, etc…) will only recognize the #scuba.
Don’t use punctuation or special characters; this is a no-no.
Do use numbers and capital letters to help distinguish multiple words. Upper case letters will not affect your search results, #scubadiving and #ScubaDiving are viewed as the same thing.
Don’t use too many. How many hashtags should you use? There is no limit, but one to three is the general standard. People tend to get annoyed when you add 12 hashtags to your one sentence post.
The placement of hashtags is also something to consider. You can use hashtags to replace words within your post. For example, “Where are the best places in the world to #scubadive?” Or you can place the hashtag(s) after your post. For example, “Where are the best places in the world to scuba dive? #scubadive.”
As you start to get more comfortable with using and viewing hashtags, you will start to understand hashtags can have a more advanced usage, such as giving context or an understated tone to your content. For example, you can use hashtags to add humor: “Wearing socks with sandals is so stylish. #kidding.” Or to convey some added commentary: “I hate when people smoke cigarettes indoors. #annoying #rude.”
Sometimes you may see hashtags that are very long, or extremely specific, and would probably not yield much in the way of search results. These hashtags are merely for entertainment, or even sometimes used to poke fun at the whole hashtag ideology, for example, #stuckatworkonasaturday or #Soooexcitedfortheworldcup. Businesses will sometimes use this strategy and create their own hashtags for branding purposes or to promote specific campaigns and events.
This covers the review of hashtag basics. We hope this article has shed some light on the daunting, somewhat incomprehensible world of social media. Whether you embrace the hashtag movement, or choose not to, hopefully this will help you better understand hashtags, how to use them to promote your business, and help you use them in such a way that will impress your customers, students, and fellow divers.