Want to find something important on social media? #HashtagIt. Want more people to see a post? #HashtagIt. So how did hashtags get so popular and how should we use them?

With millions of images and text shared every second on social media, it’s hard to stand out. Hashtags make is easier for shared content to be discovered by anyone. A hashtag is a word or phrase, written in a post or comment, preceded by the hash or number sign (#). The symbol is meant to highlight the word or phrase and to help a search that makes the hashtag discoverable by anyone on social media, not just those that follow you.

Hyperlinked hashtags started on Twitter in 2007. People first used it to view similar content. But savvy businesses adopted the new trend, and their use skyrocketed. Businesses and brands now use hashtags to launch new products, campaigns on social media or for no real reason.

Ordinary users add this feature to daily social media posts. How else can I engage with my Twitter family during Rising Stars without the #DigicelRisingStars hashtag? What better way to find the latest celebrity gossip than by doing a hashtag search of their name? Hashtags have become a fun way to engage and express humour on social media.

Sadly, many users abuse this feature. Some seem to think hashtags must decorate every post or that every word of a post should be a hashtag. #It #Does #Not #Work #That #Way.

There is a limit to the number of hashtags you can use in posts. Three or four are acceptable for business pages, freelancers and brands. Too many unnecessary hashtags lessen post engagements and often lead to account suspensions on some platforms.

If you want to use hashtags effectively, here are some tips. Limit the number of hashtags per post to a maximum of four. Too many makes your posts look chaotic and disorganized. Be sure your hashtags relate to your posts or comment. One easy way brands do this is by adding the year or location at the end of a hashtag, example: #PripsJA- the JA, short for Jamaica, adds to the hashtag’s uniqueness and specifies the location of tag.

The hashtag feature is a fun and effective way of engaging your audience and can double as a great marketing tool. But only when used correctly. #UseHashtagsButDontAbuseHashtags