The hashtag. Is it a useful marketing tool or pound-sign predicated nonsense? A beacon of content organization or self-promotional pariah? Don’t be offended as we take the devil’s advocate perspective. We get it. Really. But we’re still interested enough in the discussion to ask the question: How does the hashtag  figure into business and brand social and content marketing?

The origin of the hashtag is logical enough – legend has it that an early Twitter user began the trend as a way to organize conversations around a unique topic. It was seized upon (wisely) by the Twitter team and has become, really, the center of the Twitter conversation. The foundation of the Twitter chat, thankfully. And that may be the vortex of what makes the hashtag valuable as a symbol of a brand or business. It encourages community and draws people in. It rallies like-minded people around interests and passions. Surely these things make an impressive argument for the value of not only that hashtag, but for investment in the social conversation in general.

There are many examples of the hashtag’s value in promoting businesses and brands. So shall we characterize the hashtag as a serious marker’s tool and as a fun, free-wheeling conversation piece?

Q1) What are some rules for creating and promoting hashtags for businesses and brands?

Q2) How can brands increase their reach using hashtags? Is Twitter search useful for this?

Q3) If using a hashtag a sign of loyalty to a brand, how should it be encouraged?

Q4) How do you really feel about spontaneously created hashtags? #wearerollingnow

Q5) What makes for a strong, useful, and enduring hashtag?

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