What are the Types of #Hashtags?

I was asked by Gary Hirsh about using hashtags in his campaign to spread his Joybots around the world. He has seen quite a few different hashtags being used for his product, and has been using some on his own, but had some questions. Our conversation lead me to doing some interesting breakdowns on the types of hashtags and how to use hashtags correctly in social media.

I really enjoyed where our conversation went, and realized that the type of hashtag you use comes down to what your intent is behind using it. Are you making fun of yourself and providing commentary? Are you talking to a wider community? Are you just categorizing your art or post in to a particular archive?

The Types of Hashtags

Don't Forget the Hashtag

Topical Hashtag

What is it a Topical Hashtag?

A Topical Hashtag is any hashtag that is about a specific topic. These are usually what you see trending because there is a sudden rush of conversation that pops up over a topic like sports or TV shows. However, these can also go over a long period of time where users contribute their thoughts and check others’ periodically.

NBA Hashtag

#NBA is used as a Topical Hashtag for anyone wanting to contribute comments to a general NBA discussion

When to use a Topical Hashtag?

Use these hashtags when you are contributing to a discussion or participating in discussion of a particular event or topic. As a business, you want to make sure that you are tagging your posts with the appropriate topics so that people interested in that topic are finding you.

How to use Topical Hashtags effectively:

A great way to gain followers is to post something funny, reply to someone else that posted, or post something controversial about the topic. Other people often browse these hashtags and you can find a lot of people that share the same interests as you do. You also want to send good article and blog posts to this hashtag if they relate.

To really super charge your business’ use of Topical Hashtag, try out the site http://ritetag.com/ – you can put in some of your hashtags and find out how they rate (then use some tips down below to try out some new ones)

Additional Examples:

#GameOfThrones, #NBA, #socialmedia, #digitalmarketing

 Need the basics? The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag by Rebecca Hiscott

Community Hashtag

What is a Community Hashtag?

These are tags that are used by specific communities to reach out to each other and talk to each other. These tags are what you see popping up at seminars and conventions, so attendees can have a meta conversation about an event. Community Hashtags are also a way for users to talk to other uses in a specific community. Some tags are short lived while others go on forever.

#WDS is for World Domination Summit held in Portland, OR each year. #WDS2014 is specifically for the attendees in 2014.

#WDS is for World Domination Summit held in Portland, OR each year. #WDS2014 is specifically for the attendees in 2014.

When to use a Community Hashtag?

Use this anytime you go to a physical event. Some of my best interactions and most enriching experiences are actually continuing contact with people I meet at workshops and seminars who continue to use the hashtag later on. I find that events are also when a lot of people are exposed to social media and hashtags and first begin to use them often.

#pdxpioneer is the hashtag of Pioneer Nation, an event for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs in Portland, OR.

#pdxpioneer is the hashtag of Pioneer Nation, an event for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs in Portland, OR.

How to use Community Hashtags effectively:

This type of hashtag is all about engagement. Make your posts something that others can respond to. Ask questions. Respond to others. Stay current with the event. Some really beneficial things to do are to thank presenters, volunteers and anyone else at the event. Send lots of thanks because people love being acknowledged and you will get a lot of retweets and new followers.

If you are a freelancer or small business, you can usually revisit these hashtags to reconnect with attendees later on. Even if nobody is posting, people often visit to review. If people are still posting and the community is remaining active, it is a great small pond for you to become a big fish.

Additional Examples

#WDS, #WDS2013, #TEDxPDX

Personal Commentary Hashtag

What is a Personal Commentary Hashtag?

These tags are normally custom and just make use of the hashtag to separate them out from the person posting or to give further insight in to their emotional state. . Meaning, they use a hashtag to provide commentary in the voice of another person.

#passiveaggressivetweets is a hashtag I use to make fun of myself for tweeting about things that bother me, instead of handling them in real life.

#passiveaggressivetweets is a hashtag I use to make fun of myself for tweeting about things that bother me, instead of handling them in real life.

When to use a Personal Commentary Hashtag?

Use these when you are making fun of yourself! They are lighthearted and just provide a bit of insight in to your attitude. They can also be used to provide some emotional juxtaposition to your post. For example, “How I love spring time. #allergies”. Your tweet is positive, but your #allergies adds depth to your love — do you love it in spite of allergies? Do you not love it at all? Etc. It creates some fun.

How to use Personal Commentary Hashtags effectively:

Use these to showcase your personality, whatever that may be. Make jokes, especially at your own expense. Comment on the absurdity of using social media in the first place. The great thing about the Personal Commentary Hashtag is that it is outside of you, which means you get to have some fun with it. Seriously, get your sass on.

Additional Examples:

#getoffmylawn, #passiveaggressive

Post Commentary Hashtag

What is a Post Commentary Hashtag?

This is a group of tags that tell a viewer something about the post that would take too many words to explain. These tags make use of our common and contextual knowledge. If you don’t implicitly know what a tag means, these are essentially what you end up Googling or asking someone younger than you about (no shame, we all have to do it!).

#tbt is ThrowBackThursday, where people post photos and memories from the past. #mcm is ManCrushMonday where people post photos of men they like. Combining the two gives you old photos of men you use to like.

#tbt is ThrowBackThursday, where people post photos and memories from the past. #mcm is ManCrushMonday where people post photos of men they like. Combining the two gives you old photos of men you use to like.

When to use a Post Commentary Hashtag?

Use these when your post falls in to a particular type of post to tell the story of the post itself. Commentary hashtags are especially good when your post might not make sense otherwise. If you are 30 and suddenly post a photo of yourself at 13, people might wonder what is suddenly going on. Using a #tbt (Throwback Thursday!) hashtag will let people know that you are just reminiscing about a time in the past. This frees you up to talk as if you are doing a contemporary post.

How to use Post Commentary Hashtags effectively:

These are great “events” to inspire posts that you might not otherwise do, and can be used to give your followers insights in to different aspects of your life/business. Use #tbt to show where you were at 5 years ago and just how far you have come! These tell a quick backstory — it is on you to provide the rest.

Additional Examples

#latergram (photos on Instagram that you post after you took them), #tbt (throwback Thursday, where users post about their past), #wcw (Women Crush Wednesday, where users post photos of women they have crushes on)

Double Entendre Hashtag

What is the Double Entendre Hashtag?

The double entendre hashtag may, or may not, be sexual in nature. In reality, it just means something that has two (or more) meanings to its use. One meaning is usually literal, and can be used in a sentence while the other meaning is usually one of the other types of hashtags.

The #perfect can be taken literally, but it also refers to the theme of 2014's TEDxPortland Event.

The #perfect can be taken literally, but it also refers to the theme of 2014′s TEDxPortland Event.

When to use the Double Entendre Hashtag?

You want to use double entendre tags when you are low on space or when you are using a hashtag in a proper sentence. It is one of the more savvy hashtags to use, but can also be used to spread the reach of an otherwise boring message. For example, if you tweet “I want an apple”, you can put a #apple to allow anyone browsing that tag to see it.

You can also use this tag when you want to put emphasis on a particular word.

How to use Double Entendre Hashtags effectively:

Use these inline to show that you are paying attention or to get your posts in multiple feeds at once. These are particularly flexible and creative because you can use it in so many ways by combining other types of hashtags. Full disclaimer: Double Entendre Hashtags are my favorite. I’ve rewritten full tweets just to try and pack them in.

Archive Hashtag

What is an Archive Hashtag?

A catalog tag is used when you want something you post to be archived with other things that go fall in the same category. All of the similar things together create an easily viewable archive of that specific thing. While they don’t require an image, they are definitely most popular when cataloguing images.

These are the oldest type of ‘tagging’, when people would tag blog posts to discuss particular topics, as opposed to putting the post in to a specific category.

#mural is used as an Archive Hashtag here, as it brings you to a huge list of murals.

#mural is used as an Archive Hashtag here, as it brings you to a huge list of murals.

When to use an Archive Hashtag?

You want to use this tag when you are posting a specific piece of work. For example, if you are working on an art project, you might tag it with the medium you are using. If you are taking a photo of a specific thing, you might tag it with that object. This is the most literal tag, so if you are posting about an apple, you would use #apple.

How to use Archive Hashtags effectively:

Pick a few hashtags and try and dominate those areas so that people who are looking see you over and over. This can gain you followers that are specifically interested in the specific type of thing you produce or do. Use them to describe any images that you take, but make sure that you are using them literally. If you take a photo of a duck, you should use #duck. (and #quackquack)

Additional Examples:

#mural, #sketch, #bridge

Choosing Hashtags

Since so much of which hashtag you use depends on your intent, it is always difficult to strictly define a hashtag. If you are just starting out, try using a few and see what works for you. If you attend an event, this is a great opportunity to connect with people event-wide using the Community Tag. Having people online that you share interests with and talk to is one of the best ways to make sure that you consistently interact with Social Media — and that is the best piece of advice I can give.

For more information on choosing hashtags, I recommend the following articles:

How to Identify Relevant Hashtags for Your Business by Bin Teo

5 Ways Your Business Should Use Twitter Hashtags by Stephanie Buck