In 2010, the same year that “BFF” and “viral” were added to the Oxford English Dictionary, “hashtag” joined the fray of digital-related words that have become part of our everyday vocabulary.
But of them all including “LMAO,” “unfriend” and “social networking,” “hashtag” may be the most misunderstood.
What’s a Hashtag?
Simply put, a hashtag groups tweets together on a particular subject. When you add a ‘#’ directly in front of a word (or acronym) on Twitter – a link is automatically created.
You’ll find hashtagged terms within people’s Tweets. They are typically at the end, but can be embedded anywhere. When you click on the link you will see all the latest tweets containing that hashtag, making them easy to find among the millions of tweets sent each day.
When a hashtag becomes extremely popular, it can become a trend. Big events in news, sports, or entertainment tend to quickly generate heavy activity.
Why Add a Hashtag to Your Tweet?
Typing a relevant hashtag into your Tweet will help readers find your message, even if they aren’t following you. On any given day, an infinite number of hashtags are circulating, so using the right one is key to success.
If you’re Tweeting about a big event – such as a conference – usually the organizers have designated a hashtag for people covering the event in social media. Look on the event’s web site or literature to find the appropriate hashtag.
Outside of a major event, the best way to find the right hashtag is to test out the term: type it into Twitter’s search box, and if it’s in use, you’ll pull up a list of related Tweets. The larger the list, the more popular the hashtag.
Another way to research is to use an analytical tool, such as hashtags.org. This allows you to view a hashtag’s analytics within a 24-hour period, as well as see a list of prolific users, related hashtags and posts using that tag.
Creating Your Own Hashtag
Anyone can start a hashtag and hope it gets picked up by users. This can be a great way to promote your business name, brand or new product.
However, starting from scratch requires a consistent effort. Although it's possible for some hashtags to go viral instantly, it’s more likely that you’ll need to do some consistent work to help it pick up traction.
Tips for Using Hashtags
According to hashtags.org, if you’re coming up with a brand new tag, use a term that is “catchy, short and concise, clear, and relatable – users see the value in using it”. More tips for successful hashtags:
- Keep your tag short: Because of Twitter’s 140 character limit, no one will use it if it’s going to eat up half their available characters.
- Don’t be vague: if you’re hoping to interact with farmers who like tech talk, use the specific #FarmersTechnology rather than the general #Technology.
- Be wary with acronyms. Aside from extremely popular terms -like #DWTS, for the popular TV show Dancing with the Stars - acronyms can leave your reader in the dark.
- Don’t overdo it. Twitter recommends no more than two hashtagged terms per Tweet.
- Add Value: Be sure that every new Tweet you send with your hashtag has good content for your readers and avoid repetition.
Hashtags are a great way to promote your business and develop Global Visibility. They allow you to spread your brand, take advantage of popular trends, and get your message out.
What already established hashtags have you used? Have you had success creating your own?