8 Tips on How to Use Hashtags
Social media is an unstoppable whirlwind, and with this growth came the wider use of hashtags by businesses and consumers.
Hashtags (#) are used before a relevant keyword or phrase to categorise tweets. This allows your tweets to show more easily in searches, and clicking on a hashtagged word shows you all other tweets marked with that word.
The American Dialect Society crowned the word ‘hashtag’ the word of the year in 2012, and one person named their new born baby girl Hashtag – a decision that prompted an internet storm and led to other hashtags including #TerribleParenting and #StupidestNameEver.
I wouldn’t recommend going that far, but here we show you how to use hashtags and how to make them work:
1. Why do you need a hashtag?
Figure out what you need a hashtag for. If you use a hashtag in a tweet, or in the description of a photo (for example on Instragram), users can associate that content with a theme categorised by the hashtag itself. An example of this is #theinsider – the hashtag we use on Twitter when we upload the latest articles. If you click on this hashtag it searches for all tweets including it.
2. #Don’t #go #hashtag #crazy
The more hashtags you’re using, the more conversations you’re entering. Don’t use hashtags for the sake of it – use the most relevant for your content. Numerous hashtags make things hard to read and they look messy.
There are a few reasons that shorter hashtags work well. Firstly a long hashtag is harder to read and will confuse readers. Secondly, typing out something long will likely result in spelling mistakes, especially if you’re writing it on a mobile phone and the content won’t be matched with its intended hashtag. Finally, a long hashtag takes up precious twitter characters.
4. Don’t change the hashtag
Once you’ve decide on a hashtag for your campaign – stick to it. Changing part way through will confuse users and will make your own life difficult if you’re trying to track what’s going on.
5. Promote your hashtag
It’s becoming increasingly more common for television viewers to tweet whilst they watch. Because of this TV shows have started to suggest a hashtag that viewers can use to join the conversation. For example, when Ashleigh and Pudsey auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent they were promoted using the hashtag #pawsome.
The more places your hashtag is used, the more people will recognise it and use it themselves. Promote it on social media sites or at the bottom of your emails. Encourage people to ‘voice their views’ or ’join the conversation’ to boost engagement.
6. Join other hashtags
Making your hashtag popular is difficult, so try to join others before coming up with your own. Search social media to see what it being used in similar conversations to yours. It’s not a crime to use the same hashtag, but make sure the content is similar to yours.
7. Use hashtags in a sentence
By using the hashtag in a sentence, it gives it more context. It also gives you more room to write.
8. Fool proof your hashtags
You don’t own your hashtag just because you created it. Hashtags are open to manipulation – like all things on the internet – just think of Susan Boyle’s recent hashtag #fail. Long hashtags made up of different words may make for difficult reading and may change the meaning. The best way to avoid this happening is to create an acronym or end it with a number (if it’s relevant).
These tips should point you in the right direction when using hashtags but as with all things on social media – use your common sense and give different things a try.
Pic source: YouTube and hashtags.org
Amy is our Campaign Manager and works with our clients to ensure all campaigns follow an effective campaign strategy and produce results.