Hashtags have been met with some criticism since their launching on Twitter over five years ago. They have a smart purpose when used appropriately, but some people take it to the next level and turn every word into a hashtag. You probably know a few people like this, don’t you?

When Google+ started supporting hashtags, some people thought they were jumping on the hashtag bandwagon. But, Google+ has proved them wrong. Hashtags work a little differently compared to other social networks, and understanding their purpose can help bring more visibility to your brand.

Typically, hashtags are used to curate content that has been included under a specific hashtag. For instance, if you search for #falldecorating, all content that includes that hashtag will come up in your results. With Google+, hashtags are used to explore topics rather than curate them. Using the #falldecorating hashtag, Google+ would return all topics related to that hashtag.

Now that you know that hashtags are worth using on Google+, how can you use them to your benefit? Below are a few tips.

Take Advantage of Shared Interests

Google+ uses an algorithm to determine which updates make it into your home stream, and this algorithm appears to use hashtags as one of its predictors. Even if a person isn’t in your circles, the algorithm does a nice job of linking people who have shared interests. By including a couple of hashtags in your updates, you can connect with other users who have similar interests and give your content more visibility.

Use Google+’s Hashtag Suggestions

On other social platforms, it’s up to the user to choose a hashtag. Google+ suggests hashtags and will automatically add hashtags that will help you reach more people. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you want to use this feature, but if you don’t like having to come up with hashtags, the auto-suggestion function is a good friend to have.

Find Relevant Hashtags

If you’re not liking what you see hashtag-wise through the auto-suggest function, drop by the Explore section and check out related hashtags, as well as other hot topics. This will help you link your content to trending topics for added exposure. One good tip: Include your brand name in the hashtag. You don’t always have to do this, but when users search for your brand name, the content will be pulled up in the search.

As you spend more time on Google+, you’ll find that hashtags are an important tool for reaching a larger audience and giving your brand more visibility.