hashtags, social media, social networks, facebook, twitter, instagram

ColinCramm / Shutterstock.com

Hashtags, far from being a relic of a Twitter era past, are in wide use across social networks and devices, offering marketers a new way to connect with prospective consumers, according to a survey conducted by RadiumOne, a digital advertising company.

Three in five users regularly employ hashtags on social networks including Facebook and Twitter. (The mobile-only social network Path began supporting hashtags with an update yesterday.) Of those, 70 percent use the symbol when sharing content from their mobile devices.

“For the last several months, the use of the hashtag has steadily increased,” said Kamal Kaur, RadiumOne’s vice president of mobile.

The symbol has become a nearly automatic way for Internet users to categorize their thoughts and feelings.

“It’s literally become synonymous with Google keywords,” Kuar said.

Fortunately for marketers, the user tic allows them to monitor for mentions of their brands and adapt their marketing strategy accordingly, in real time.

More than 30 percent of users already use hashtags to search for categories and brands of products. More than half said they would use hashtags encouraged by a marketing campaign if they received some incentive for doing so.

RadiumOne asked consumers among the 125 million in its network to participate in the survey. Of nearly 500 respondents, 71 percent were female and 44 percent were between the ages of 35 and 54. The numbers suggest that middle-aged women may be the most eager users of hashtags.