Twitter is that beloved social media platform that asks you to sum up your thoughts in 140 characters or less. It forces you to keep the message short and sweet, and arguably stimulate your creativity. And when it comes to creativity, hashtags are in a class all by themselves. After all, if you want people to click on the hashtag and follow, you need to make it interesting enough. Read on …
What The Heck Is A Hashtag?
A hashtag is a metadata tag that lets people search for and label social media updates. If enough people follow and promote it, the hashtag can trend, which means more people follow it. A hashtag can also be used as a means of describing a particular promotion or deal.
Would this be hashtag hash? – (Photo Credit: powerplantop)
Hashtag construction is simple and straight-forward; it’s a pound sign followed by characters. So for instance, #hashtagsrule could direct people to a discussion on your website about how awesome hashtags are. Using it in a tweet could look like this: “We have some great ideas about using hashtags! #hashtags rule”.
Getting The Most Use Out Of Hashtags
Okay, so now you know what a hashtag is, but how to put it to the best use?
You can use a hashtag for your own branding purpose. For instance, Ed Young Jr Ministries uses #hecknology as their hashtag and their brand. Make the hashtag unique to your brand. You should do a search for it on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, Instagram, and Pinterest, to see if anyone else is using it. If possible, keep the hashtag short and sweet (easier for people to remember and spell!). If your hashtag pertains to a particular campaign, then make sure the names complement each other. If your bar decided that instead of holding a Happy Hour from 4 to 6, you’d have a Crappy Hour from 2 to 4, you could do #crappyhour2to4.
Just in case you think that hashtags are all branding and trending, let’s bring up the concept of content hashtags. These hashtags point to content that helps to raise exposure of your business and improve SEO. For instance, if you run a hobby shop, your tweet may have hashtags that reference content on #modelwarships, #electrictrains, or #noroyarn.
There are no restrictions or guidelines in using hashtags over and over, but still, try not to overuse them; too much of a good thing, and all that. When you’re tweeting on Twitter, don’t exceed three hashtags. Furthermore, try to stay relevant to the topic at hand. Check out popular keywords and try to create hashtags based on them, but don’t ride the coattails of other trends; start your own!
And finally, avail yourself of some nifty tools, and speaking of which …
Tools You Can Use
… it just so happens tools are being discussed right here. Wow, you’d think this was planned somehow! Here are some cool tools for making better hashtags.
Hashtags.org- This free service shows what hashtags have been trending over the last 24 hours. Any heavy duty function like storing or monitoring hashtags will cost you.
What The Trend- This Hootsuite-owned resource lets you see global trends based on nation and city data. You can even track individual hashtags as streams in Hootsuite. The global trend tracking can be done either daily or monthly. While What The Trend is free, Hootsuite Pro has a monthly fee (though their basic service is free, and has fewer functions).
Trendsmap- This site visualizes the local use of hashtags and places them on a world map. This enables you to see trends by city, country, or even continent. If you own a local business, this tool is just right for you. There’s Free, Basic, and Plus levels of membership, each granting more functions. The Free level really just gives you the bare minimum, and is not meant for heavy use anyway.
All in all, hashtags help people find you online, alerting customers to a business that they otherwise may not have known about. Keep your hashtags informative, don’t overdose on them, and use trend-spotting tools to get some idea of what topics to link up with. Learn from others’ mistakes, and you’ll remain competitive. Good luck!
Byline: John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about everything from SEO strategies to home maintenance, and everything in between.