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Social Media - How To

By Lowell Brown

How to use Hashtags on Twitter


Twitter, one of the most widely-used social networking platforms today is the mastermind behind the hashtag system. The term “hashtag” has become well-known in the online community and has been adopted by other websites such as Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest. Hashtags have quickly become a part of popular culture. Knowing when and how to use hashtags are important to get the most out of your social media marketing. But first things first, what exactly is a hashtag?

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag (#) marks a keyword or topic in a user’s tweet. Hashtags are formed by using the number (#) symbol followed by the keyword with no spaces or punctuation. The purpose of hashtags is to enable users to quickly find content on a topic that is of interest to them. A user can use a hashtag in their own messages or they can simply search for a hashtag to find more content on a particular topic.

When to use a hashtag?

Knowing when to use hashtags are a must if you’d like to get your message out there. Hashtags can be used to start a conversation or join a conversation that is already happening on Twitter. Users often hold Twitter chats, where a hashtag is associated with a discussion theme. Twitter chats are scheduled at a specific time, where users can log on and join the discussion in real-time by including the hashtag in their messages.

Hashtags are also used for holding contests, networking, and discussing major events, to name a few. For example, you can hold a contest and use a unique hashtag to get people to enter your contest, with the hopes of attracting more followers to your account. Hashtags, such as #FollowFriday is a great way to network with other Twitter users. Every Friday, you mention users whose tweets you find helpful by including their Twitter handle in your message. In addition, hashtags are commonly used to discuss events. They allow users to learn more about the event and enable users to express their feelings towards a particular topic.

How to create a hashtag

A hashtag can be a single word, an abbreviation, or a phrase. To create your own hashtag, always begin with the number (#) sign followed by letters, numbers, or a combination of the two. The first step is thinking of a catchy keyword or phrase that is not already in use. It is important to ensure that your hashtag is not the same as an existing username on Twitter because it will only lead to confusion. A tip for creating an effective hashtag is to keep it short, simple, and easy to remember. Since the hashtag will use up some of the 140 character limit it is best to keep the hashtag short. Hashtags that are understandable as opposed to a jumbled combination of letter and/or numbers are the easiest for users to remember and use.  Once you have thought of your own hashtag you can begin including it in your Tweets. Most people put hashtags at the end of their message but they can also be found at the beginning of a Tweet or within the Tweet itself.

The importance of hashtags

Frequenting including hashtags in your messages is an effective way to promote your personal profile or company page. You are advertising your message not just to your followers, but to the entire Twitter community. If you’re a business, for example, you can promote your services by including a hashtag within your content. This hashtag could be a general keyword that is related to your service offerings or a newly created hashtag that is unique to your business. The use of hashtags is a great way to network with users. Often times, users will create a hashtag that prompts users to fill in the blank. These hashtags, called mad-lib hashtags are effective at generating traffic and maximizing user engagement.

Hashtags were created with a purpose in mind so I recommend that all users take full advantage of them. Knowing the function of hashtags, when to use them, and how to use them are key steps to becoming a Twitter expert.

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