Number sign. Pound sign. Octothorpe. A hash. Hashtag. #. What is it? What is its purpose? And most importantly: how can you use it to increase your press release’s visibility? 

The “hashtag” punctuation mark has been around for years. It’s believed to have been used in Roman times to abbreviate “lb.” Later, with the introduction of typewriters, the pound sign was used as a short-form representation of “number.” Computer programmers eventually used a # to group messages and content, making it easier to find information when needed.  

Fast forward to 2007 and # appeared on Twitter, along with the first use of the term “hashtag.” Initially thought as unpopular and something “for nerds,” after a fire occurred in San Diego, #sandiegofire was used to track updates related to the event. The hashtag concept took off and was soon adopted by activist groups, political parties, and for social media trends like #ThrowbackThursday.   

After Twitter, other platforms adopted the use of hashtags – Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest.   

What is the purpose of a hashtag? 

Hashtags are most often used today on social media to group and link similar content. This helps readers interested in a specific topic quickly find additional content on that same topic. If you open Twitter or Instagram, for example, and type #cutedogs in the search bar, you’ll be served up any post that included #cutedogs. In a few seconds, your feed is full of cute dogs, ready for you to browse.   

How can hashtags play a role in your organization’s news?  

Hashtags aren’t only for Twitter. Incorporating relevant hashtags in your press releases can help boost searchability of your news, increasing engagement and reach. Think of hashtags as keywords: what terms would people search when look for your news? Use that as a starting point when determining what hashtags to include in your release.   

Where should you put hashtags within a release? 

Adding hashtags within your release lets readers know that these are relevant to your announcement. If you’re sharing news about an upcoming event you’ll be hosting or attending, for example, try including the hashtag in the subhead or first sentence. You can also add hashtags to your company boilerplate.   

When releasing your news with Business Wire, you have the option to add hashtags to the sidebar of your published release. These terms link directly to Twitter, allowing readers to find similar news to yours and, in turn, having your news add value to overall conversations taking place.  

Here are some examples:  

A “cashtag” allows users to click on a company’s ticker symbol and see what news is
being shared on Twitter about that company. Instead of starting with #, they start with $. 

How do you determine which hashtags to use?

Understanding which hashtags to use for your organization’s release involves a little research. Here are some ways to tackle this: 

  • Do a competitive analysis on social media to understand what hashtags your competitors are using. Which are used most often? How many are used at one time?  
  • Are there any hashtags currently trending? There are several online tools – free and paid – that provide trending hashtag suggestions based on your keywords.  
  • Similarly, there are tools online to help you understand related hashtags to your own. You can also go to LinkedIn, search for a hashtag (or click a hashtag in a post) and select “Discover more hashtags” by clicking the ellipsis. 

Ready to add hashtags to your release? 

Here are some tips to consider: 

  • Add #PressRelease to your announcement. It seems simple, but this will help anyone searching that term to find your news. 
  • Remember to do your research. Only relevant terms will generate traction.  
  • Don’t go overboard. Stick to 3-5 hashtags. You want enough to help increase viewers but not so many to be a distraction. 
  • Adopt terms from your news as hashtags. If you’re sharing an announcement about recent survey findings, use a hashtag like #surveyresults. Or if your news is about an event, include something related to that: #charity5K, #fundraisinggala, #blooddrive. 
  • If your story is specific to a certain geographic location, incorporate terms relevant to the city, state, or region: #chicago #PacificCoast #UK 
  • Attending or presenting at a trade show or conference? They likely have their own hashtag; add this to your release and social posts. 
  • Sometimes it might help to create a hashtag for a person or people in your press release.  
  • Write legible and accessible hashtags by keeping them simple and using title case: #BestCommunicationsTips #TopBooksof2022 
  • Keep your hashtags strictly limited to your specific news. You don’t want to lose your reader within irrelevant tags. 

Business Wire offers a suite of free social engagement and advocacy features designed specifically to support your social communications efforts. Find out more about Business Wire’s press release social features.

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