Whether you know why they are there or not, it’s pretty safe to say we all see a #hashtag or a two on a daily basis. They’ve spread from their native Twitter to almost every other social sharing platform in just a few short years. But what do they really do? Even though all hashtags come in the same format, the purpose and function on each network is actually quite different.
In this post, we are going to expand on our original post and give you a complete guide to utilizing twitter hashtags. So get ready for more engagement, more exposure and better yet, more followers and customers for your brand in a few easy steps.
The Original Hashtag Source
Twitter is where the hashtag all began, so it’s no wonder why they’re so widely used by tweeters. Hashtags show up in a tweet as a hyperlinked “#” followed by a word or phrase. For example, when you click “#Twitter” in the tweet below, twitter will show you all the recent tweets containing that hashtag (and if you click the link, you can learn more stats about Twitter).
— Data Nerds (@_Datanerds) February 18, 2016
Chris Messina was the first person to use a hashtag on twitter and initially designed it to create “channels” within twitter. He wanted to help groups get in touch with other people with the same interests without excluding anyone at the same time. Chris also touted that hashtags are not only easy to learn but also have a great deal of flexibility.
For some more fun facts about Social Media, see our latest post here.
Why Use Hashtags?
So, what can hashtags do for you and your brand, business or personal account? Well, using hashtags can have quite a few benefits. First and foremost, hashtags make it easy to find what you are looking for. They are often used to communicate things like popular events (#Superbowl50), emergencies (#PrayForHaiti), Holidays (#MerryChristmas), general interests (#Business) or popular trends (#TBT).
Second, hashtags make your content easier to find. Using 1-2 hashtags on each tweet you send can get you 2x more engagement by spreading your tweet further than it would go organically. In other words, adding a hashtag means anyone interested in that tag can see your tweet, not just your followers, and visibility is key fore more engagement. This means more retweets (greater reach), favourites (the equivalent to a Facebook “Like”), replies (direct communication) and new followers.
So if 1-2 hashtags can get you 2x more interaction, 3+ hashtags must mean you even more right? Wrong. Using more than 2 hashtags per tweet actually decreases user engagement by 17%, so pick your tags wisely and make sure they are relevant to your brand.
Digging a bit deeper into the subject, you’ll come to find that hashtags go a lot further than you may have initially thought. First let’s look at just how hashtags connect you to those users you may never otherwise find and connect with.
When you place a hashtag into your tweet, Twitter automatically groups it with every other tweet with the matching hashtag. This means people with the same interests are now able to get in touch with each other via searching that particular hashtag. Once searched, you will be directed to Twitter’s hashtag stream screen.
Hashtag streams are broken up into 5+ different views. Top (default), Live (current), News (published by news sources), Photos, Videos and more options. By clicking on any of these options, your searched hashtag will be sorted accordingly. In the more options bar, you’re able to narrow your search to “people near you” and “people you follow”.
If you’d like to continue your search, there is also a related topics section to see what else users have been searching that are similar to your search.
Utilizing Twitter Hashtags
As we said previously, hashtags are for getting you noticed. As a business, blog or social media expert the main goal is always going to be increased exposure, increased engagement and more new followers! While there are many different ways you can utilize a hashtag to reach these goals, we’re going to focus on the main 2 here.
Using Trending Hashtags
A simpler (and more reliable way) for utilizing twitter hashtags is to piggyback on already trending tags. Every day, twitter compiles a list of the most used hashtags from all over the twitterverse. For example, today while I’m writing this post, the top trending hashtag is “#NationalDrinkWineDay“, and I’m certainly not mad at that!
If you wanted to utilize the popularity of this hashtag with your own brand, you may want to post a photo of yourself (responsibly) enjoying a glass of wine and hashtag it with #NationalDrinkWineDay. The possibilities are endless and the more creative you can get, the more engagement your tweet is likely to receive.
Inventing Your Own Hashtags
In any sort of marketing, you’re going to want to stand out. To do this on twitter, that can be as simple as creating your own unique hashtag for your brand. For example, during the Superbowl this year, Pantene created the hashtag #DadDo to shine a light on a Dad’s ability to do his daughters hair. The campaign featured famous football players creating adorable hairstyles for their daughters to prove it’s not just for women! Because of some of the cutest commercials ever, the hashtag gained popularity during the game and was quickly trending. Because of the amount the hashtag was being used (retweeted, tweeted about, etc), it was featured in the sidebar of twitter (the Trending section) where it was exposed to millions more users.
While you can’t expect this sort of result for every hashtag you create, they can be an absolute game changer when they gain momentum. It’s worth it to test some out and at the very least, you will have a hashtag your followers can use to get in touch with you, share your product and spread the word.
So there you have some of the best strategies for utilizing twitter hashtags for your business. For further reading on optimizing your twitter account, see our top Social Media posts:
- How to Perfect Your Social Media Strategy in 3 Simple Steps
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- 40 Social Media Hacks in One Sentance or Less