What the Heck is a Twitter Hashtag and How to use it Effectively
It used to be that when people thought of hashtags, they thought of telephones and the pound sign. In the age of Twitter and social media, that all has changed. Today, the term ‘hashtag’ more commonly refers to a tag used on the social network Twitter as a way to annotate a message. It not only refers to the symbol itself, but also to the word or phrase preceded by the “#” (i.e. #yourhashtag). Hashtags are commonly used to show that a tweet, or Twitter message, is related to an event, occurrence, or concept.
Hashtags are also a wonderful way for communities and social audiences to categorize and easily reference information. As hashtags are essentially keywords, Twitter allows you to search for them using their search engine and even shows you recently trending hashtags (as shown in the image below).
If there are a bunch of tweets you are interested in posting that are related to one topic, you may want to categorize them using a sole hashtag. This will make it easier for the public to reference and search for that info. Hashtags.org is a great site for searching for the most popular hashtags and also provides graphs for keyword analysis.
Hashtags are not only important and can be used for the aforementioned reasons, if used correctly, they can also be a great way to market an idea or product. Hashtags are a powerful way to reach people or groups of the same or similar niche. When using a hashtag in a Twitter post, you are essentially optimizing the message for Twitter’s search engine, similar to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). And with nearly 30 million unique visitors in the month of May (’11) alone, it’s no wonder why so many people are using hashtags to index their tweets. With this in mind, I’ve gone ahead and created a short list of suggestions for effectively using hashtags:
- Keep them short. #IlovetheweekendandcantwaituntilIamoffofwork will be much less effective than #weekendlove
- Search for and use hashtags that are popularly trending or commonly used when trying to reach a large unspecified audience
- When promoting a campaign or event, try to use a catchy phrase or term as a hashtag. #itgetsbetter resonates a bit more than #bestrongfortomorrow
- It’s an unspoken rule in the Twitterverse to not use more than 3 hashtags per tweet. While many do not follow this suggestion, the thing to take away is your message should not be distracting. ”The #Green #Lantern like most #superhero #movies looks like a #good #time at the #theater” is a no-no.
- Be sure to only use hashtags that are relevant to your tweet. Placing #ladygaga in a tweet about the latest ERP software is not effective marketing and will probably anger your audience and others searching the Twitterverse.
- Do not add spaces or punctuation to your Twitter hashtag. If you want to discuss world famous actor Will Smith, using hashtag ‘#Will Smith’ will only index your tweet as referencing “will”, similarly to how using hashtag ‘#gov‘t’, will index that tweet as referencing “gov”. #willsmith and #govt should be used respectively.