I'm exploring coolness in life. Join me on this journey and let's (re)define cool together.

Hash tags aren’t just for Twitter


A friend of mine who manages social media for her company recently made a post on her Facebook page and asked, “What is up with the use of hashtags on Facebook? I don’t get it.”

It seems that not too many, if any, advocated for the use of hashtags unless you were on Twitter or Instagram. The majority of the comments on her Facebook page were in total agreement: hashtags + Facebook = blasphemy

Well then, consider me a blasphemous marketer. And I said so on her wall.

I began my own exploratory on how the ever-popular and often misused hashtag came to be, and wondered if Twitter owned that birthright. Per the wikki page, hashtags were first used within Internet Relay Chat networks to identify topics, groups or topics relevant to a particular group. Twitter does get credit for elevating its use and popularity and the first high-profile application occurred during the 2007 California wildfires (#sandiegofire).

From wikki, my online search led me to this site for best practices where I discovered the illustrious hashtag can – and is – being used in other places. These uses are affectionately known as “Hash tags in the wild” (see the bottom of the web page).

As the marketing director for a university, social media is part of our everyday. It’s where our audiences live and where they learn about us, ask questions and share opinions. I have used hashtags on Facebook. Often. And sometimes, I even “borrowed” them from our Twitter page.

Now let me be clear. We do not speak the same language across these two platforms but we do often share the same information. For us, it makes sense to leverage #uncggrad, #gospartans or #UNCGHomecoming across our different social channels. It simply continues the dialogue where are audiences are talking about us and with us.

Most popular and most often used, is #dsba. As an outcome from our integrated marketing initiative, #dsba equates to Do something bigger altogether, the university’s tagline and more importantly, our shared value. We use it when we post a story or compose a tweet, along with others from our campus community. Our students use the hashtag not only on Twitter and Facebook, but also on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. For them, it is a collective conversation thread and for us, a branding opportunity built by an association that we contribute to, as well as our #dsba community members.

Is it working? I know we are on track because we created a page on our social media hub, Connect, that reflects the many social conversations around #dsba. And if I can take an indulgent moment to brag on the work of our creative team, we have won awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the American Advertising Federation for our use of social media and #dsba to promote and share integrated marketing. We have given several presentations on this topic as well.

Beyond higher education, hashtags can be used for consumer products goods, services, programs – the list is endless. It may take a while to build that community, but it is doable if you are diligent, responsive and consistent.

And by building that dialogue, you engage with your audience and encourage members to participate and shape the conversation. I can’t think of a better way to build and enhance your brand reputation.



  1. my kids speak in hashtags on a regular basis… not unusual to hear “hashtag struggling” “hashtag areyoukiddingme” “hashtag reallife” or even “hashtag hastag” I don’t always get it, but like all social media, it’s a fun way to connect and have a laugh, even when we’re not actually online. as far as I’m concerned, it if brings you some happiness, it’s all good.

    • this is what I am talking about. The term hashtag and the symbol # are/do/reach/go/mean social. It’s conversation for now. I often say hashtag just saying. Perhaps it’s a trend, we shall see but it certainly has grown beyond Twitter. But kudos to the first tweet who birthed it. : )

  2. this IS interesting, thanks for sharing slydawgg. With the support, hashtags will be both clickable and searchable, Interesting. Bravo Facebook.

  3. Cooldeb – I thought you might find this interesting based on your recent post, and your friend reference to Facebook+hashtag = blasphemy
    Facebook has now added #hashtag support, so it’s here to stay. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest are all using them at this point.

  4. thank you for sharing your opinion Kim. I love what I do and I love that social media is now such a relevant part of marketing and communication. There are plenty of people who will disagree with me (and hopefully they will share their voice on this post) but we each have our own experiences and learn what works and doesn’t. I like to look at the bigger collective of social networking and then drop down into appropriate platforms so in this case, a few encompassing hashtags work for us.

  5. Having not really known what a hashtag was this was informative and curious. Unlike you I don’t have the kind of job where i am expected to rely on social media, participate in it in my day to day work environment. So to understand and comment on facebook and twitter at any given moment is not in my wheelhouse or timetable. I feel some people have way to much time on BRAGBOOK as I call it, and find I continually delete or hide them so I don’t have to read their inconsequential comments. I do however understand and appreciate the importance of specific and timely communication; cutting to the chase. So along with my many years in Sales and with my B.S. in Marketing degree I thank you for Debbie for schooling me in the art of hashtag’ing.

We are (re)defining cool together so please share a thought or two.

%d bloggers like this: