How to use the Twitter #hashtag

Posted on by Richard

Twitter

Twitter… maybe you have it? Maybe you’re thinking about it? Perhaps you use it for your business, to connect with friends, to follow celebrities, to show off your crazy skills, or to stalk your ex-lover.  It can be an incredibly useful tool, not just as a networking tool but to promote and communicate nearly anything. Still in their relative infancy, twitter and facebook have become the voice of communities in countries that have collectively removed governments from power, sparked protest and brought truth to the surface where it has been covered up. Twitter may well be the fastest and most accurate source of news on the planet today.

As a newbie, or perhaps even as a user who has been on twitter for a while you may be wondering if you’re getting the best from it. Perhaps you use it for your company, events, services or to promote a product. Maybe you simply use it to connect with your facebook.

If so, read on…

What is a hashtag?

A hash tag is simply any word preceded by the # (hash, number, pound sign, alt 3 on an UK mac).  It’s purpose is so that a specific word of phrase can be indexed by twitter and collectively searched and viewed by everyone else. For example, as I tweet my rage at how rude Simon Cowell was to little Percy on tonights X Factor, I may end my tweet with #xf11 or #xfactor.

Using the hashtag in your Organisation

You may like to choose a hashtag for a specific event, product or service for your company. Just remember that twitter has millions of users, and so you should check your hashtag of choice before you decide broadcast it. After all, you don’t want to discover you’re linked to something completely inappropriate, irrelevant, or a competitors company. Here is a handy tool to check out hashtag stats HERE before making the leap.

Also remember you can’t ever have exclusive rights to a hashtag – this would defeat the purpose.

How not to use the Hashtag

There are no real rules here, although I’ve observed some pointless uses of hash tags, such as a running phrase at the end of a tweet:

#somethinglikethisdoesntmakemuchsense

The likelihood of someone searching for that phrase, or that it would start to trend, are nearly non existent. So there’s not much point in doing it unless you think it’s #absolutelyhilariouslyfunny.

Twitter Updating Facebook

You may want to use your twitter to update your facebook (or vice-versa), but lately I’ve realised this is no longer a good idea. Facebook in their ever changing wisdom have hidden status updates from twitter by default. So if you’re promoting something on both platforms, the way to get the most visibility is to do it the hard way and update both twitter and facebook manually (aw come on, copy and paste, it’s not that hard).

Also remember if you are using twitter to update your facebook status, the hashtag may not make any sense to those friends. It is also of no use to them.

Good uses

A great example I’ve seen is a local trend from people here in N. Ireland in response to recent resurgence of violence. People tagged their frustrations and disgust with #notinmyname. This is where the collective volume of the voice of sensible people in this world is raised.

If one hashtag is not enough to encapsulate your tweet, then work away with as many as you want.  However 1 or 2 key words are probably going to be more effective that twenty.

So in short, here are my top tips:


About Richard

Free lance web designer, IT support consultant at Blackdog Media. View all posts by Richard →

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