What is a hashtag?
Hashtags originated on Twitter in 2007, but nowadays they’re used on other social media platforms, especially Instagram, as well as TV and Video campaigns.
A hashtag comprises two parts: the hash symbol – # – sometimes called the pound symbol in the US – immediately followed by a keyword or phrase. For example, putting the # symbol in front of the words ‘World Cup’ (without space) makes it a hashtag: #WorldCup.
Why use hashtags?
Hashtags are a handy way of grouping and categorizing tweets, and they help people follow topics in which they’re interested. Anyone searching for a specific topic can find relevant tweets immediately rather than having to scroll through their Twitter feed.
Twitter’s research found that tweets with hashtags increased engagement – clicks, retweets, favorites, and replies – for individuals and brands:
Tweets with hashtags can increase engagement by almost 100% (2x) for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands.
So you should use hashtags to help people discover and engage with your content.
When should I use hashtags on Twitter?
You can use a hashtag whenever you’re referring to a specific topic. For instance, you could use hashtags for:
- Events: #TrumpUKVisit, #Wimbledon, #CMIWorld
- Places: #NYC, #London
- Themes: #ThursdayThoughts
- Things: #coffee, #computers, #cars
- Verbs: #golfing, #cooking, #writing
- Industry terms: #socialmedia, #photography, #tech
You’ll also see hashtags used for Twitter Chats; for example, #QChat, #SEMRushChat.
When shouldn’t I use hashtags on Twitter?
Don’t use hashtags in your adverts if you’re trying to drive traffic to your website. Twitter found that adverts without a #hashtag or @mention generate 23 percent more clicks. Unsurprisingly, their best practice states:
Avoid #hashtags or @mentions in your copy so that your audience does not click away from your ad.
How to use hashtags on Twitter
Here are three hashtag tips to follow:
- You can use one or more hashtags anywhere in your tweet. Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per Tweet, but you’re free to use as many as you wish.
- Don’t use spaces in a hashtag. For example, ‘#World Cup’ would reference the topic of ‘World’ as opposed to ‘#WorldCup’, which references the ‘World Cup’.
- Don’t use punctuation in a hashtag. For example, #It’sComingHome won’t work, although it’s grammatically correct. Use #ItsComingHome instead.
Now you know the what, why, and when of hashtags, let’s see how you can incorporate them in your posts.
Do & Don’ts While Choosing Hashtag On Twitter
- Make it easy to remember — and spell. Don’t leave room for possible typos, which will make your Tweet undiscoverable.
- Be realistic.Don’t expect people to start using your brand slogan or other one-sided hashtags in their Tweets if it doesn’t fit naturally and there is no incentive for them to do so.
- Do your research. Check and see what hashtags people are already using when talking about your brand, and capitalize on those. Also, make sure to check if your desired hashtag is already being used. If so, ask yourself if it’s still relevant to your brand.
- Give people a reason to use your hashtag.Whether it’s an actual prize or just recognition in the form of a Retweet, your audience will respond better when it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Partner with influencers.Influencers can help gain exposure and visibility for your hashtag.
- Over hashtag.One to two relevant hashtags per Tweet is the sweet spot. Remember: character count matters.
- Expect your brand slogan to translate to a hashtag.A hashtag is meant to be inclusive, shareable, and discoverable. If it doesn’t organically fit within a Tweet, it’ll feel forced and lose its intended purpose.
- Expect people to use your hashtag without a reason or incentive. The best hashtags have the ability to draw people in and invoke curiosity to explore and join in on the conversation.
- Neglect to educate on what it is and how to use it.Make sure you’re clearly communicating the hashtag and more importantly, why someone would want to include it in their own Tweet.
- Use all CAPS LOCK.Unless it’s an acronym, this feels like shouting and also adds unnecessary work.