I've written about hashtags before, but times have changed since then. People used to get annoyed when their friends used hashtags on Facebook because they were proof that those posts were imported from Twitter. But hashtags aren't just for Twitter anymore. They have become an indispensable means of searching content by subject on all networks, including Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Google+ began supporting hashtags in May 2013, and in September of last year began allowing Google+ hashtags to be used to search Google+ posts through Google. For example, when you search for the popular #amwriting hashtag on Google, you'll get a list of Google+ posts on your right. On your left, beneath a link to the #amwriting hashtag website (Yes, it has its own website), you'll see a link to the Twitter search for #amwriting, the FB #amwriting page, and a link to the Instagram search for #amwriting. Only Google+ posts, however, are displayed individually.
While Facebook officially announced the incorporation of hashtags in June 2013, many Facebook users still resist them. According to a September 2013 article in Digital Trends, Facebook came too late to the hashtag party to be cool. In fact, posts on Facebook with hashtags have less viral reach than those that without. "Facebook is a more intimate, person-to-person sharing environment,” says Eric Convino, founder of Creative Signals and an SEO expert, in the Digital Trends. Hashtags still have a marketing feel, and no one wants to be marketed to by their family and friends.
Hashtags have been popular on Instagram from the early days of filtered photos. Like on Twitter, hashtags lend themselves well to content that is visual or has small snippets of text. The best way to find popular hashtags on Instagram is to search for one that fits your photo and see what other similar hashtags appear. For example, when I type in "#berkeley," (239,994 posts), I see that #berkeleymarina comes up second (with 4216 posts) and #berkeleycollege comes up third (with 3796 posts).
According to Cynthia Sanchez of Oh So Pinteresting, while many Pinterest users put hashtags in board titles, board descriptions and account descriptions in an effort to stand out, none of those hashtags are clickable. And if they're not clickable, they're useless. Hashtags are only clickable in pin descriptions on Pinterest. And hashtags are widely used on Pinterest.
Twitter continues to be the most popular social network for hashtags. While trending hashtags come and go, some popular hashtags, like #amwriting, have staying power. To find hashtags for a particular subject, search an obvious keyword associated with that subject (#psychology, for example) and see what other hashtags people using that hashtag have attached to their tweets. You may find, for example, that #psychat is much more popular than #psychology.
What about you? What are your favorite hashtags? On which networks do you use them?