I’d venture a guess that a majority of today’s marketers spend at least a portion of their day on Twitter. The microblogging site has become an invaluable tool for engaging with customers, listening in on conversations around your company, and keeping an eye on the marketing industry. However, with over 100,000 new tweets per minute (no seriously – that is the real statistic!) trying to glean useful marketing information from the network can be like drinking from a fire hose.
An easy way to categorize and organize all of this information is through hashtags. You’ve probably heard the term used liberally across the internet and seen it pop up in more than a few tweets, but what exactly are hashtags and how do we use them? We’ve put together a quick guide below to answer these questions.
What is a Hashtag?
Hashtags are unique identifying words or phrases, preempted by a pound sign (#), and spelled out with no spaces. These hashtags serve as unique identifiers to tie together conversations around a topic. For example, if I were to tweet out this article, I could add the hashtag #twittertips to have my tweet grouped with other helpful posts regarding twitter. You can search for hashtags in the twitter search bar or through services like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite.
Why use a Hashtag?
Using an appropriate hashtag can give your tweet added visibility after it’s posted. Your tweet will not only show up in your own activity feed, but also in the feed associated with a given hashtag. This gives you access to a relevant audience that may not have even been aware of your company.
Hashtags are pretty helpful, right? They can be a quick and easy way to widen your reach while staying focused on relevant topics and conversations. But before you get started, look at the best practices we’ve put together below to help you maximize your hashtag’s impact and keep you out of trouble:
Research the Hashtag
With thousands of new hashtags created every day, the odds are fairly good that a hashtag is already in use. Before adding a hashtag to your tweet, use search.twitter.com to see whether or not the hashtag is being used. Assess the hashtag’s use to see if it’s a conversation you would like your tweet to be included in. An overused hashtag may dilute your message through sheer numbers, so always be open to creating one of your own.
Keep it Relevant
If you’ve been creating content and engaging with your audience for any length of time, you hopefully have a good understanding of the keywords that are most relevant to your industry. Just as tagging your content with these keywords raises visibility to your target audience, tagging tweets with these keywords can get your posts in front of the right people.
Short and Sweet
Remember, the best and worst thing about twitter is that your message real estate is limited. With 140 characters, you don’t have a lot of room to add additional hashtags, so try to keep them reasonably sized. This will make it easier for you to work the hashtag into your tweets, and will make it more appealing for your audience to begin including the hashtag in their tweets as well.
You can download these tips and more in our useful Best Practices Guide, featured below:
Hashtags can be a dead simple way to give your tweets some much needed visibility and to find new and relevant audiences. As long as you are careful about the process and follow the suggested best practices (you don’t want to end up like RIM!), you should see a rise in twitter engagement. All because of a simple addition that takes a matter of seconds!
Are you using hashtags? We would love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments down below!