Twitter hashtags are appearing in many places these days – on websites, during television shows, in the captions of Instagram photos and of course, within many Tweets. Why should marketers use up valuable Tweet characters for hashtags? Below are several reasons.
Twitter Hashtags: What Are They?
Hashtags look like this: #StanleyCup. They are composed of the pound sign (#), a keyword or keywords, and no spaces. They are case-insensitive, so it’s okay to use first letter capitals as in our example. Hashtags provide a grouping mechanism for all the Tweets surrounding a certain topic. As an example, let’s take a look at the Trending Topics in San Francisco, or the most popular topics in Tweets by people living in San Francisco. To find these on Twitter, click on “Home” and then scroll down until you see the “Worldwide trends” box. (If you click on “Change,” you can change the default “Worldwide” to the city you’d like to see trends for).
Based on the screenshot above, one of the Trending Topics in San Francisco is #GoodThingsInTheWorld. As you can see, it’s also a hashtag because it has the # symbol in front of it. This means that people on Twitter have written Tweets about “Good Things in the World” and included the hashtag #GoodThingsInTheWorld in their Tweets so that they are grouped. To view all the Tweets surrounding the topic, click on the hashtag. This will pull up a page similar to this:
Now all the Tweets for this hashtag can be seen.
Twitter Hashtags: Why Should Marketers Use Them?
With a better understanding of what a hashtag is, marketers can move on to the next step: using them to better promote their business and engage with Twitter users. First, marketers need to understand how Twitter users use hashtags. Users can find hashtags by searching for them in a Twitter search field; there are search fields in the Home, Connect, and Discover sections (although the Discover section is more tailored to hashtag searches). Users can also conduct an advanced Twitter search, or search on Twitter through third-party applications like MediaFunnel. Often, users simply look for already popular hashtags in the Trending Topics section.
Hashtags are beneficial to companies because they can introduce Twitter users to brands for the first time. Users can discover a brand that relevant to them and start to follow the brand on Twitter.
• Marketing Live Events - Marketers can use hashtags to create buzz and excitement during business conferences, office parties, awards ceremonies, webinars, and more – all while these events are in process.
• Conducting Contests - Let’s say that a fictional cell phone company called Talki Tech is conducting a giveaway contest on Twitter. Talki Tech’s marketers can create a hashtag and use it in a Tweet like this: “Enter to win by Tweeting the first name of your favorite person to call, and include #talkitechcell in your Tweet.” A marketer can then easily visit the #talkitechcell page and choose a winner from the Tweets that are listed.
How to Create Hashtags
Creating a new hashtag is simple. After searching Twitter for the proposed hashtag and finding that it doesn’t already exist, simply put a pound sign in front of the keyword(s) and type the combination into a Tweet. (If you use a hashtag that’s already in use, you may confuse your audience or involve the wrong users in your Twitter dialogue). Try to create hashtags that are short and memorable, and don’t create ones that are too emotionally charged. The latter could stir up controversy and negativity; keep your hashtag neutral and descriptive.
Next, give your hashtag visibility. Put your new hashtag on your website, blog, ads, and e-mail newsletter. People will see it and become curious about what it is and what it means.
Keep in mind Twitter’s policies on hashtag abuse:
“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.”
You can also use the reverse approach: include hashtags in your Tweets that were created by others. Let’s say you work for the Talki Tech company we used as an earlier example. Perhaps you searched Twitter and found that a popular hashtag is #goodcellphones. You might want to insert #goodcellphones into some of your Tweets so that people can see Talki Tech as part of the “good cell phones” conversation. Including a popular hashtag in a Tweet will also increase the likelihood that the Tweet is Retweeted.
Try to come up with a good hashtag that relates to your business’s product or service, and look for how the regular use of that hashtag affects your brand’s level of engagement on Twitter.