Best Practices with Hashtags

|   Oct 30, 2012

What are hashtags and why should we use them?

The # symbol (called a hashtag) is commonly used with important keywords or topics in a message. The main purpose of applying a hashtag to a word in Socialcast is to categorize messages…

  • So long as there are no spaces between words, you can hashtag a phrase. For example, I’m guilty of typing in #iLoveVMware when I hear wonderful news within the VMware community.
  • All hashtagged words stand out from other words in a message because they are a different color from the rest of the message’s words.
  • Clicking on a hashtagged word shows you all other messages marked with that keyword. This works great for internal campaigns and promoting a certain brand within your community.
  • Hashtagged words can be created and published anywhere in a message post – at the beginning, middle, or end.
  • Hashtagged words that are increasingly used and become popular may be displayed in your Socialcast community’s Trending Topics.

Snapshot of Trending Topics within VMware

The most popular hashtag in VMware’s internal community is “#worklog” – we use this hashtag for what we are currently working on. The benefits of the “#worklog” hashtag include…

  • It’s a great way to inform your peers/manager of your current projects.
  • This also helps avoid duplication in group efforts.
  • It also saves time at team meetings – no one will ever need to ask, “What are you working on?” Rather, they will already know it and at the meeting, may follow up with you – thereby making team meetings more efficient and relevant for everyone.

Our Socialcast community leverages hashtags in other ways and these marked words are not always about business. Hashtagged words can provide a way to express personality, much like a casual soliloquy or a parenthetical afterthought, which can often be humorous.

  • I’ve seen one member complain about this cell phone dying during a conference call and ended his status update with #FirstWorldProblems.
  • Another user in our community noticed a heated technical debate between his colleagues and gently reminded everyone with a hashtag that we’re on the #SameTeam.

Overall, hashtags provide a way for you to differentiate posts while making it easier for other users to find them.

Comments

  • Thanks for the post Mike. Are hashtags and topics the same thing? If so, does VMware have a set of standard topics/hashtags used across Socialcast?

    The idea for this in my organization would be to distinguish Socialcast standardize contextual topics common to the everyone in the organization from other topics.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks.

    Regards,

    Jaime Porras

    Commented on November 26, 2012 at 1:09 am
    • Hi Jaime,

      Yes, hashtags and topics are the same thing. When you use a hashtag in an update that tag automatically becomes a topic. Some standard hashtags that we use in our community are #worklog (what you are currently working on), #helpzilla (IT help) and #[Any VMware Product] (any update around a specific product).

      It is hard to standardize hashtags as each company is different. However, the best hashtags are the ones that are created organically. Just make sure your employees understand how to search for hashtags that are already being used so they don’t duplicate similar topics by using slightly different hashtags. Hashtags that have already been used in Socialcast will pop up when you type in #.

      Thanks,
      TJ

      Commented on November 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm
  • TJ,

    Thanks for the reply. My organization is currently testing the OP version of Socialcast, do you know of a way to delete topics once they have been created? For example, I would like to better organize existing topics by removing duplicate, similar ones.

    Thanks again.

    Regards,

    Jaime Porras

    Commented on November 27, 2012 at 4:48 am
    • Hi Jaime,

      Since topics are created when hashtags are used in posts you would have to delete all the posts that use that particular hashtag, I would not recommend doing that since I am sure those post contain important content. I would recommend taking the time to brand the topics that you want to focus on with images and descriptions. Then educate your community members with a broadcast message on your core hashtags and when to use them. As these core hashtags continue to be used more they will surface as a trending topic and will continue to gather momentum.

      Thanks,
      TJ

      Commented on November 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm
  • Understood TJ. Thanks again for all your help.

    JP

    Commented on November 28, 2012 at 12:53 am
  • A very nice addition is that you can set up custom streams in Socialcast which follow topics. And you can set up email notifications to get alerted if someone uses certain topics, regardless of the group this message was posted in.

    Example: A legal staff members can set up alerts whenever someone writes about #NDA or #contracts.

    It would be great to learn more on when to use hash tags vs. groups – both from the product team as well as customers.

    Commented on December 3, 2012 at 8:09 pm

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What is Socialcast?

Socialcast by VMware (NYSE: VMW) is a social network for business uniting people, information, and applications with its real-time enterprise activity stream engine. Behind the firewall or in the cloud, Socialcast enables instant collaboration in a secure environment. Socialcast is headquartered in San Francisco, California. www.socialcast.com