Twitter For Business Guides (Hashtags)
How Hashtags Work
Twitter hashtags are one of the strongest reasons this social media network has done so well. Let’s take a look at how we can make the most of them.
Step 1. What is a Hashtag and How do I Create One?
A hashtag is a keyword preceded by the “#” symbol. When inserted into a Twitter post, it helps people quickly find all posts also containing that particular hashtag. You can use capital letters within a hashtag to make them easier to remember (e.g. “#AllJobs” or “#alljobs”), but you cannot use spaces or all numerals. Hashtags can go in the beginning, middle or end of your tweet.
Tracking Your Hashtags
Hashtags.orgs has heavy-duty analytics analytics – but as you can see, they don’t come cheap.
And since TweetChat effectively discontinued itself, thanks to Twitter API changes (though it has been rebranded as “SmartStream” and there is still a TweetChat URL) there are no really good free alternatives for thorough hashtag analysis.
A better solution for the average, single online marketer’s budget is Hashtracking, which offers a month’s free trial and starts at $29.00 per month. If your market’s main social network is primarily Twitter, this might be worth its weight in ROI.
Hashtracking provides real-time analytics and reports, their “smart control” also allows you to analyze reach and effectiveness.
This is a snapshot of Hashtracking real-time analysis…
You can also measure your hashtag reach manually (if less accurately) by keeping a count on how many retweets contain it and how many others use your hashtag.
Finally, after it has gained some use, you can return to Hashtracking’s main page and enter it in their “Hashtrack Explorer” field.
Step 5. How to Generate Hashtag Discussion
In order to generate discussion using a particular hashtag you’ve created, there are three steps you need to make sure you’ve taken:
- 1. Create the hashtag around a highly specific, hot article, event or topic
- 2. Actively cross-promote it – via your email list, your blog and other social media networks
- 3. Provide a powerful incentive for people to share it
It doesn’t matter what this incentive is, as long as your target audience thinks it is something they can’t live without or can’t stop talking about. Your incentive could be:
- An affiliate contest
- A new product your market has been craving
- A free gift
- A webinar, teleseminar or podcast
- A viral video
- An online event (e.g. blog tour, workshop, etc.)
- A current, hot topic
You can also “register” your hashtag with services like Hashtag.org and Hashtracking. This doesn’t give you exclusive copyright to your hashtag – but it does serve it up in these platforms for others to notice and use.
Make sure you use your hashtag actively during your campaign. Increase your visits to Twitter, so that you can make sure your message reaches out to segments of your Twitter traffic that usually misses your tweets.
You can pre-schedule your tweets with free social media managers like Hootsuite, but a better idea is to tweet manually, in real-time – and hang around long enough to acknowledge retweets or thank or reply to those who spread your hashtag in person.
Ask others to retweet your hashtag-carrying posts.
Keep your hashtags short, for memorability and appeal. (Besides, if you #createahashtagthatswaytoolong you will eat up its retweetable real estate – there’ll be less room for people to write about it within their 140 character limit and it will lose its appeal.)
And remember: Before you set a hashtag you’ve created in use, be sure that it isn’t already connected with a negative or conflicting current event.
Step 6. Specific Hashtag Uses
The wonderful factor about Twitter hashtags is their versatility, while still providing specific functionality and uses.
You can use hashtags to:
- Promote a specific event – online or offline
- Promote a new product or free gift
- Start a discussion around a hot topic
- Bond with a group
- Keep people abreast of updates on a topic, event or product
(This last strategy is a great way to help build a buzz by keeping conversation going.)
Note that several specific hashtag uses are the same as specific hashtag incentives. Your hashtag should be something people can’t wait to pass on – and it should be hot.
When you are creating it, brainstorm your topics and keyword choices thoroughly and carefully. Your choices will play no small part in the success of your hashtag.
As mentioned, hashtags that are too long usually don’t catch on. And if you are promoting a particular hashtag, it’s better not to include other hashtags in your tweet. (In fact, using multiple hashtags within a tweet is a fast way to be branded as a spammer!)
But the best part about hashtags is their flexibility. So do use them and track them – even if it’s only within a Twitter search, to see who were the last one hundred people to spread your hashtag.
Remember – when you create your own hashtag, you don’t just create a keyword: If you’ve chosen and spread it correctively, you can create an entire online community.