One of the great aspects of social media is that it lets you in on the conversation.
Thought Twitter was just about politicians and celebrities exploiting the latest medium for self-promotion?
Wrong. It gives you a ringside seat next to current events, the latest business trends and subjects that are relevant to your industry and interests. Better still, you get to join in, add your thoughts and share your own insights.
What’s more, the hashtag makes it all possible.
How? Put simply, a hashtag is a keyword phrase. It is preceded by a hash sign (#) and is used to group conversations and tweets by topic.
These hashtags are easily searchable, so it becomes a good way of finding other posts and users who might be of interest to you. Think of the hashtag as a little signal of invitation to collaborate and share around a particular subject.
Of course hashtags aren’t unique to Twitter and over the years, its usage has grown on other social networks too.
However, Twitter is still the spiritual home of the hashtag. It’s where it all began and where the ground rules were firmly set.
Let’s take an example. Say you’re a small business who wants to look for online marketing tips. You’ll find lots of other small businesses willing to share their experiences just by searching for:
By clicking the hashtag in any post, you’ll find a list of every other message that contains the same keyword phrase. It’s through this method that Twitter is able to connect users from around the world through common threads of communication.
How do I find hashtags to use?
Our advice is to look for existing hashtags first. If you create your own quirky version of an already popular keyword then you really do run the risk of missing out on a well-established conversation.
Twitter provides a list of trending topics popular among its global users. However, you can also ask for a list of ‘tailored trends’ which can even be filtered by location.
You could take a look at hashtagify.me – it’s a handy tool which provides related hashtag suggestions based on your keyword search, then ranks these according to popularity.
It’s actually how we found the #smallbiz hashtag on our earlier list, as one of the suggestions based on our hypothetical search for #business and #marketing
How do I create a hashtag?
Now take another look at #smallbiz
You may have noticed that it doesn’t include any spaces or punctuation, or it won’t work. A hashtag that includes only numbers won’t function correctly either.
If you want to use a hashtag yourself, you can insert it at any point in your post – beginning, middle or end. Think carefully about creating a keyword that is relevant otherwise you might just disappear into obscurity. Or, as Twitter users might put it more succinctly – #fail
- Don’t overuse hashtags
- Don’t #makethemsolongthattheybecomeunreadable
- Be wary of jumping on the hashtag bandwagon if you don’t fully understand the meaning of a particular keyword. You never know what you might be inadvertently endorsing – and be especially cautious as a business with a corporate identity to protect
If you want to make social media work harder for your brand, then call us on 0845 519 6177.