What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a keyword or a phrase used to describe a topic or a theme. Twitter users put hashtags in their tweets to categorize them in a way that makes it easy for other users to find and follow tweets about a specific topic or theme.
According to Daniel (2017), to create a hashtag, you have to put the pound sign (#) before the word or phrase and avoid using any spaces or punctuation (even if you’re using multiple words in a phrase)
For example: #WeddingsByPixelsKenya
A hashtag automatically becomes a clickable link when you tweet it. Anyone who sees the hashtag can click on it and be brought to a page featuring the feed of all the most recent tweets that contain that particular hashtag.
What does a hashtag do?
A Twitter hashtag ties the conversations of different users into one stream, which you can find by searching the hastag in Twitter Search or by using a third-party monitoring tool such as HootSuite.
So, if Twitter users who are not otherwise connected talk about the same topic using a specific hashtag, their tweets will appear in the same stream. In that way, Twitter hashtags solve a coordination issue and facilitate a conversation.
Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics; topics so many people are talking about that they are a “trend.”
Twitter Hashtag Best Practices
It’s great to use hashtags, but it can be easy to make mistakes if you’re still new to the trend. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Use specific phrase hashtags to hone in on a particular topic.
Going too broad with a hashtag like #Weddings may not get you the engagement you’re really after.
A hashtag like #WeddingOffers will not only include less irrelevant tweets, it will also turn up better-targeted users tweeting or searching for that specific topic.
Check If It’s New
After you decide on a keyword or a phrase, search for it. Visit Search.Twitter.com and enter your preferred hashtag in the search box. Did you get any results? Is someone else already using that hashtag for their event or campaign?
If there is a lot of conversation around it already, you might want to revisit your decision and pick something that isn’t as frequently used. In that way, you will reduce the chances of people who are not a part of your target audience entering/diluting the conversation you want to take place.
Avoid using too many hashtags in a single tweet.
With only 140 characters to tweet, cramming multiple hashtags into your tweet leaves you with less room for your real message and just looks spammy. Stick to 1 to 2 hashtags at a maximum.
Twitter’s best practices suggest you not use more than two hashtags in the tweet, because this can dilute their usefulness for other users, and make it a royal pain in the eyeballs to read.
Only use hashtags that are relevant to the topic you’re tweeting about.
Pick Industry or Brand Keywords
Hashtags can also help communicate a message to those not actively searching for them. For example, if someone you’re following is tweeting about an event using a hashtag, you will still be able to see their updates in your main Twitter feed without accessing the entire hashtag conversation. In other words, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of what they’re tweeting about and quickly connect the content of the tweet to the hashtag they’re using. And if the hashtag reflects an industry or branded keyword that is interesting to you, you might be inclined to check out the rest of the conversation happening around that hashtag, a win for the marketer who created it!
Keep your hashtagging relevant to what you’re tweeting about.
If you’re tweeting about the weddings, you wouldn’t include a hashtag like #TanoTena unless it was somehow relevant. Make sure your tweets and hashtags have context if you want to impress your followers.
Promote the Hashtag by Incorporating It into Other Marketing Channels
A hashtag is only useful if people know about it. So, to start generating conversations through your hashtag, start adding it your existing resources and channels. Add the hashtag to the social media sharing links included on landing pages.
Don’t Hijack Hashtags for Sensitive Situations
Hijacking hashtags designed for serious and sensitive issues can lead to some pretty bad consequences.
For instance, associating #WeddingOffers with #MosesKuriaMustGo
Below is Twitter’s official stance when it comes to hashtag abuse. As you can see, there’s more at stake than just PR backlash … “The following behaviors and others like them could cause your account to be filtered from search, or even suspended:
- Adding one or more topic/hashtag to an unrelated tweet in an attempt to gain attention in search.
- Repeatedly tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending/trending higher.
- Tweeting about each trending topic in turn in order to drive traffic to your profile, especially when mixed with advertising.
- Listing the trending topics in combination with a request to be followed.
- Tweeting about a trending topic and posting a misleading link to something unrelated.”
Hashtag existing words in your tweets to save room.
If you’re tweeting about weddings and you already mentioned the word “weddings” in your tweet text, then there’s no need to include #weddings at the beginning or end of your tweet. Simply add a pound sign to the word within your tweet to keep it simple and save more valuable character space.
Use Twitter trending topics to find hot and current hashtags.
In the left sidebar of your home feed on Twitter.com or in the search tab of the Twitter mobile app, you’ll see a list of trending topics that are a mix of hashtags and regular phrases according to your geographical location.
Use these to get in on conversations that are happening at the current moment.
Keep it Short
Be sure to keep your hashtag short and easy to remember. Remember that Twitter users are only allotted 140 characters in each tweet, with or without a hashtag. By keeping the hashtag brief, you’ll save your audience some room to include more commentary about your content.
Once you get used to seeing and using hashtags on Twitter, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. This is one big social media trend that isn’t going to fade away anytime soon!