Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Art of #Hashtags

Twitter can be a daunting world. Many delayed joining the Twitterverse in fear of having to learn the relevance of 140 characters, RT and #hashtags. I have to admit, when I took the plunge back, it was no easy task to adjust to the new digital world before me. But after some practice (and a bit of research), I was able to navigate my way through a timeline full of 140 character posts that were once a foreign language.

It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Twitter experts before me, so now I’m doing my part to help you newbies (or vets who are still struggling)! The first chapter in this multi-part lesson - the #hashtag.


First things first. What is a hashtag? Since their arrival in 2007, hashtags have helped file tweets into organized folders. By putting a # before a word or phrase, you are sending that tweet to a category of tweets all labeled with that same word. So, when you click a hashtag, you are able to view all tweets that contain that hashtag. It’s like keyword searching for Twitter.

How do we use them?

Purpose: Simply, hashtags allow all us Tweeters an easy way to communicate around a certain theme or topic.

Frequency: The key is to not use hashtags in excess. When tweets are littered with hashtags, it often makes it difficult to find the substance of the message. Tag only keywords or topics that are most relevant to your tweet. Tweets with too many hashtags are often less engaging and have lower click-through rates.

Placement: It’s suggested that hashtags are used within the tweet rather than at the end. When they are placed at the end of a tweet, they are the part of the Tweet most likely to be deleted when retweeted so that the RT-ed message can remain in the 140 character limit. Most effective hashtags are used within the tweet and are separated by several words.

Use: Much like trends in the non-virtual world, Twitter is full of hot topics. For example, you couldn’t look at your news feed two days ago without seeing #RoyalBaby plastered from tweet to tweet. Following trending hashtags allows you to monitor conversations and participate in the top-talked about topics. Use hashtags to interject in conversations happening around your area of interest or business. Own a clothing boutique? Search #fashion and insert yourself into the stylish conversations taking place. This will allow you to expose yourself to those in the same area of interest.

There are many tools available for discovering the happening hashtags. I particularly like Not only does it tell you what the Twitterverse is discussing, it also shows you what’s being discussed according to your geo-tagged location. You can truly pinpoint conversation that allows you to engage with people and businesses close to home. 

But don’t abuse trending hashtags. If your tweet is about the latest restaurant opening, it doesn’t make sense to tag #Lollapalooza. Tagging an irrelevant topic just to gain more exposure will only damage your Twit cred down the line. It will look like you’re trying too hard to gain exposure. 

Other quick tips:  

-Try not to string together too many words in a hashtag. #thisistoodifficulttoread

-When you want to get noticed by certain people or businesses on Twitter, look first to see if they have a designated hashtag. Including the hashtag in addition to or in place of tagging the account will increase your chances of visibility.

-Ready to step it up a notch? Create your own hashtag. It can be extremely effective to create your own Twitter campaign with a hashtag unique to you or your brand. This is especially the case with events. It’s becoming very popular for brands and businesses to invent a hashtag specifically for an event. When your guests are tweeting from the event using the hashtag, it helps immensely with your social media imprint. Attendees feel more compelled to tweet about your brand’s gathering when there is an event hashtag, and when they do, they are exposing each of their followings to your brand! VoilĂ , more engagement!

A not-so-little graphic for all you visual learners.


Total side note, but if you haven't seen Glossed + Found's debut rap video, you definitely need to watch it ASAP. So addictive! Look out for Monika and a bundle of our friends who make cameos.

By Emily Cleary, MDPR Social Media Director

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