Hashtags have become the standard way to label social media posts, not only on Twitter but also on Google+ and increasingly on LinkedIn. Monitoring hashtags is an easy way to spot a social media trend and to respond accordingly.

However, it is rather unclear what kind of hashtags tend to trend on these three major social channels. I thought it would be interesting to compare trending hashtags on a given day (in this case, 17th April 2013) to understand the differences between the platforms.

Recent events and consumer products trending on Google+

Google Plus is a rapidly growing platform not only in terms of its user base but also the virality of its content. A quick look at the most popular topics and hashtags (G+ mashes them together) shows a good proportion of conversations being Google-centric (unsurprisingly!) as well as discussing recent events and consumer products. Interestingly, hashtags relating to images (such as #FlowerPower) also tend to trend on the platform.

Politics, sports and bespoke hashtags on Twitter

I was quite surprised to discover that hashtags on Twitter tend to cover topics that are more serious and even political. Unlike Google+ where conversations are largely centred around consumer products, funny pictures and gadgets (with a few exceptions), there is more of a sincere thought exchange on Twitter. Of course, there are some one-off humorous exceptions again, such as the #AskBale hashtag, set up for the fans of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur, which was hijacked by Arsenal fans!

Industry-specific, generalised topics on LinkedIn

LinkedIn introduced hashtags very recently, alongside LinkedIn Signal. There is still room for improvement to make trending hashtags easy to spot, and, bizarrely, they are case-sensitive. (Searching for any hashtag containing an upper-case letter will return no results.) It is also tricky to spot trending hashtags, and my search was limited up to 2nd degree connections, instead of LinkedIn-wide conversation.

The results were, um, rather vague. Hashtags reflected more of the industries my connections tend to work in rather than specific topics, trends or events. Perhaps it shows users still need to get used to using hashtags on LinkedIn, and that there is a great potential for growth?

 

In any case, each social platform naturally develops its own unique culture of conversation. It is essential we treat each social platform differently, tailoring the approach and strategy according to the specific culture of the specific channel. One-size-fits-all will bring some results, but quite often this approach will result in misguided decisions, flawed targeting, low returns and miscommunication. It will also be interesting to see how hashtags will be used on Facebook when they’re finally introduced.

How do you diversify your use of hashtags on different social platforms?

Images courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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