Hashtags can be used to start a conversation or discussion around a topic or to find other people interested in issues that relate to your cause. Creating a hashtag for your campaign will help you connect followers through shared conversations and reach new audiences. Hit the jump to find out more.
What are hashtags?
Hashtags are simply keywords or phrases you add to your updates with a # sign before them. They are composed of a single word or phrase beginning with a “#” and with no spaces or punctuation. Hashtags are used as tags the most important word that represents the theme of your update. If people see a hashtag, they can click on it to see more status updates with that same hashtag. Think of hashtags as a way to collect and group information.
When to use a hashtag?
The primary purpose of a hashtag is to make it convenient for people to bring together conversations on the same topic. Conversations collect around hashtags. If you want to start a conversation, introduce a hashtag. If you want to join a conversation already happening on Twitter, find the hashtag that’s being used. Hashtags are commonly used at events, for television shows, and in discussion of major news events. Using the right hashtag is a great way to send your message to your followers, but its true power is the opportunity it provides to connect with everyone who is tuned into that conversation. Through hashtags you reach a whole new audience and gain new supporters for your cause.
We have created these best practices to follow to get the most out of hashtags.
1. See what hashtags potential supporters are using
One way to increase awareness for your cause is to launch a campaign that incorporates relevant, current events by joining real-time conversations that are already happening on Twitter. If people are already using a hashtag that relates to your cause or campaign, and having conversations, part of your work is already done. All your organisation needs to do is ensure that when it joins that conversation it is adding value.
2. What is trending?
It’s tempting to just look at Twitter’s trending topics, grab a hashtag from there, and formulate a tweet around it. But unless your social update is actually relevant to the topic you may find that it is actually detrimental to your organisation. Pushing into an online conversation using a irrelevant hashtag is considered bad manners so make sure what you have to say is relevant to the discussion.
3. Click through to discover what other updates come up with a particular hashtag
If you’re not sure whether to use a hashtag, just click on it to see what other status updates come up. If a hashtag is filled with 90% spam or conversations that do not relate to your campaign, it’s safe to assume that your updates will not be relevant to the audience and worse still may have a negative impact on the message fo your campaign.
4. Don’t overdo it.
Generally, one hashtag is enough to give your status update some virtual legs. If your goal is to get people to pay attention to the content of your status update, you don’t want them to get distracted with a lot of hashtags. This especially goes for status updates where the goal is to get clicks on your link. Since hashtags are also clickable, they can take away from your link’s ability to stand out.
5. Remember that hashtag usage across social networks differs
Just because a keyword hashtag works on Twitter, it doesn’t mean it will work well on other networks. Some channels have their own set of trends and memes, such as #FollowFriday being mostly focused on Twitter. If you’re looking for hashtag ideas, don’t just check what is being used on Twitter – check any other social netowrks you may be using to decide on which hashtags will work for you
6. When to create your own hashtag
Sometimes you might want to create your own hashtag, particular if you are running a campaign. The hashtag helps you connect your supporters and widen the conversation about the issue you are campaigning for. The benefit of creating your own campaign is that you have more control over the content that is shared. You should use your own hashtag when you want to gather your own community of supporters around a cause or idea.
7. Choosing a hashtag
Remember to do a quick search before you start using a hashtag. It is important to check that no one else is using your hashtag before you start using it for your campaign. The worst thin in the world would be to start promoting a hashtag only to find that it is already being used, particularly if it is being used to share content that is detrimental to your cause.
To help you make the right decisions when it comes to hashtags Twitter created this step-by-step graphic that details the different stages involved when it comes to launching a hashtag campaign.
7. If I create a hashtag how will anyone know about it?
If you do decide to create a hashtag you will need to get busy reminding everyone how and when to use it. Just like everthing else you need to do a bit of marketing.
Your hashtag needs to be fully integrated into your campaign. One way to make sure it is memorable is to make sure your hashtags are tightly integrated with other marketing, so start promoting your hashtag through your website, print advertising and direct mail material, at events and meetings and of course use them in your social communications.