What are Hashtags? and how to use them correctly

Whenever I have a conversation with a client about Twitter, the one thing that they say to me is ‘I don’t get what hashtags are and when to use them’. One thing that I will say to clients is that don’t force using a hashtag if it is not needed, it has to fit in with the tweet. I have created this article to help businesses understand a bit more about what a hashtag is and how to use it successfully.

What are Hashtags?

Hashtags (#) are a way of identifying a message on a specific topic, they were first brought to Twitter on August 23, 2007 by Chris Messina and since then they have been used for a variety of reasons and not just to catagorise messages. They can be used to;

  • Improve the searchability of a tweet
  • Create a conversation around a tweet
  • Discover trends

One of the most popular hashtags that you will recognise is #FF which stands for Follow Friday,  this happens every Friday where a user will recommend following another user by using the #FF hashtag and then add their username(s) after, eg. #FF @Metachick1

You could be adventurous and create your own hashtag and who knows, the hashtag could even end up trending (I will come to this in a bit)

The do’s and dont’s of Hashtags

A big no-no of Twitter is to put spaces in between words that you want to hashtag like this; #I love chocolate or to put a hashtag in front of all the words like this; #I #Love #Chocolate the correct way is; #ILoveChocolate

Do not use more then 3 hashtags in a single tweet, anything above this and you will lose audiences attention, 2 or 3 hashtags have been proven to engage more people.

Be very careful on what hashtags you use as although it may seem relevant to what you are tweeting about, somebody else may have used it in a different context. You can check hashtags in the search bar to see how else they have been used by others.

Create a hashtag to start a conversation about a product or even a competition, it’s a way of keeping the conversation going between your company and your audience.

A good example of this is a campaign from Suzuki that allowed Twitter users to nominate someone to receive a new car using the hashtag  #giveanscross this was a great idea to increase their brand awareness and it was a fantastic prize.Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 13.52.54

Trending

On the left hand side of your Twitter page you will see a list of words that will have the hashtag in front of them, these are words or phrases that are currently trending around the world or the UK. If you want to join in with the conversation, make sure you use the hashtag that is being used. For instance if you have just been watching Game of Thrones you may want to tweet about that particular evenings episode. Do to this you would write your tweet like so; Tonight’s episode was by far the best #GameOfThrones

This is how a particular word or phrase gets trending, by a lot of people talking about it and using the same hashtag.

Twitter is not the only social network that is using hashtags effectively, Instagram, Google+ and now Facebook have joined the trend.

Have you created your own hashtag that has been successful?

If you are still unsure about using hashtags or anything else concerning social media perhaps I can help you and your business with managing your social media for you. Visit my website for more information.

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