Are you using Twitter hashtags as well as you could be? Twitter hashtags offer an extraordinary way to make connections and build an audience on the platform. You could be tweeting the most profound and engaging pearls of wisdom but if you're not using the right hashtags, you might not get quite the engagement you were hoping for. In this article, we're going to share everything you need to know about what Twitter hashtags are, why you should be using them, what it means when a hashtag is trending, and how to use Twitter hashtags to build your brand.
How to Find and Use the Best Twitter Hashtags:
What Are Twitter Hashtags?
A hashtag is a word or phrase (without spaces) preceded by a pound or hash symbol (#). They help users on a social media platform find content about a specific topic. If you want to see content about influencer marketing, for example, you'd search for "#InfluencerMarketing." Hashtags got their start on Twitter in 2007 but their usage has since spread to other social media platforms.
To make sure your hashtags are accessible to those using screen readers, be sure to capitalize each word of your hashtag. This isn't a common practice but it can be incredibly helpful to people who rely on screen readers to consume content. This just means that you would use the hashtag "#AccessibilityIsAwesome" instead of "#accessibilityisawesome."
Why Use Twitter Hashtags?
There are several reasons why you should use hashtags in social media—particularly if you're an influencer or marketer. Let's take a look at five ways Twitter hashtags benefit users.
Get Found on Twitter
Hashtags make your content easily searchable and groupable. This makes it a lot easier for your target audience (the people doing the searching) to find your content. Twitter users are well-versed in hashtags and regularly click on hashtags they see on the platform to find out what other content is available about the topic. If you want to make sure that the right people see your content, Twitter hashtags are how to make it happen.
Since they're searchable and clickable, hashtags are great resources for research. While you can search by a phrase instead of a hashtag, we've found that the content tends to be more "on topic" when a hashtag with the phrase is present.
Bring People Together
Twitter hashtags can also help you build community on the platform. People can participate by sharing their own content with the same hashtag, bringing voices together.
Hashtags can also be used as "inside" jokes or punchlines to help you show off your brand's personality. Wendy's has no problem with this. Here's an example from their Twitter account:
Twitter hashtags can also improve your click-through rates. In fact, tweets that include hashtags get twice as much engagement as those without (Buddy Media).
What Is a Trending Hashtag on Twitter (and How to Find Them)?
Now that you have a better understanding of Twitter hashtags and why they matter, let's talk about trending hashtags and how to find the best Twitter hashtags for your needs.
Trending hashtags are hashtags that have gone viral. Maybe something big happened in pop culture (when an icon dies, you'll start seeing tons of #RIPWhoever-type tweets) or something newsworthy outside of pop culture or... maybe something just got popular for now discernable reason. It happens.
If you access Twitter from your computer, you can find trending hashtags on the right side of the screen under the "What's happening" header.
To find more trending hashtags on Twitter, go to the Explore tab. You'll then see different headings like For You, COVID-19, Trending, News, Sports, and Entertainment. Click on Trending. The trending hashtags you see are largely personalized so what you see in your trending hashtags might be different from what your friend sees.
Aside from "What's happening" and the Explore tab, you can find trending hashtags on Twitter using third-party apps like Hashtags.org, Hashtagify.me, Trendsmap, and others. Or, find out how to use Twitter’s advanced search to find trending hashtags.
How to Use Twitter Hashtags
Twitter hashtags are really easy to use. You literally just add a hash symbol in front of a word or phrase and you're done. But using them effectively for your brand can be a little trickier. Not hard, there are just a few things to consider before you start throwing hashtags around. To get the most benefit from Twitter hashtags, you'll want to choose the hashtags that are going to make a difference for you and your brand instead of using hashtags just because they're trending.
Before we get into the ways you should be using hashtags on Twitter, let's cover some guidelines for using them.
- Make your hashtags memorable and easy to spell
- Use just one or two relevant hashtags per tweet
- Research to make sure you're using existing hashtags the right way
- Don't take over a hashtag that's already popular for another use
- Use hashtags that fit organically in your tweet
- Let users know how to use your hashtag (and give them a reason to)
- Capitalize the first letter of each word to improve accessibility
- Don't use CAPS LOCK (unless the hashtag is an acronym)
- Use influencers to help you get visibility for your hashtag
If you're already familiar with SEO, you've probably noticed that hashtags are basically keywords. As such, they tend to follow the same guidelines as keywords you'd use in the content you create elsewhere (YouTube, your blog, etc). A good rule of thumb is to choose hashtags that are relevant to what you're tweeting and your brand. This doesn't mean you can't jump on trending hashtags, but you'll definitely want to be cognizant of the context for whatever hashtags you jump on.
If you're promoting an event, turn it into a hashtag! Even if your event isn't as large as the Oscars or Grammys, it will still help those interested in your event find information about the event and engage with others who are interested in the event. You can even use the hashtag while your event is happening, encouraging attendees to live-tweet the event to not only share the ideas that are coming out of your event but to also inspire a bit of FOMO ("fear of missing out") in those who aren't in attendance.
In addition to events, there are other time-based or occasion-specific ways to use hashtags. In fact, each day of the week has its own commonly used hashtag:
And that's just the beginning. Each day of the week has at least 20 hashtags that get lots of love. The great thing about these kinds of hashtags is that you can plan and schedule your social media content ahead of time.
Twitter hashtags are great for branding. It's literally just as easy as putting a hashtag in front of your brand name or product name. You can even create branded hashtag campaigns to collect user-generated content to increase brand awareness, generate social proof, and grow visibility for your brand. Before you create and use a branded hashtag, though, you'll want to make sure that nobody else is already using it. If there are just a few tweets with the hashtag, go ahead and take it over. If, however, there are hundreds or thousands of tweets using that hashtag, you might be better off choosing something else (unless you think you have enough pull to steal it).
Businesses with a presence in a specific location should definitely start using location-specific hashtags. They're an excellent way to get your local audience interested and excited to engage with you on social media—and more engagement means more exposure. Even if you're a business that doesn't have a set location, you can still target specific locations using hashtags if you're hosting an event in a specific area or running a marketing campaign that's location-specific.
Hashtags can also be used to create chat events on Twitter. There are several recurring Twitter chats like #BlogElevated and #SmallBizChat that anybody can join in on, just by using the hashtag. Twitter chats are a great way to get more Twitter followers and build your community on the platform.
Holidays are another way to use Twitter hashtags effectively. There are the biggies like #Christmas, #Holi, and #Ramadan but there's also no end to silly holidays to leverage like #WorkNakedDay or #TalkLikeYodaDay. Of course, if you're going to use those silly, just-for-fun holidays, it's best if they're related to your brand. Dishwashing detergent brand Cascade might want to create content around #NoDirtyDishesDay on May 18th, for instance.
We've already talked about trending hashtags but what we didn't cover is how to leverage trending hashtags for marketing. First, it's important to know that you don't have to, nor should you try to, join in on every single trending hashtag. Just like keyword stuffing, if you're constantly showing up in trending hashtags with unrelated content, people are going to stop trusting your brand and see you as spammy.
To once again see how this is done well by a brand, we turn to Wendy's. At the height of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons craze in March 2020, Wendy's embraced the game, using the hashtag #ACNH to share their foray into the popular game:
The Wendy's marketing team was paying attention and was able to capitalize on the can't-find-a-Nintendo-Switch-anywhere immediacy to place themselves in the conversation that was going on. They even went so far as to stream on Twitch.
You can also jump on trending hashtags that are a bit less intimidating by taking advantage of those daily hashtags we covered earlier. Use #ThrowbackThursday to share content that you previously shared but that you still want to highlight. For #TransformationTuesday, why not share a before and after from a client that you had a hand in making happen?
According to a survey conducted by Sprout Social, 70% of consumers believe that brands should take a stand on social issues. And many brands are rising to the challenge. Ben & Jerry's has regularly used social media and hashtags to speak out against several social issues, most notably racial justice. Here's just one small example of how Ben & Jerry's uses hashtags to promote their favorite causes:
Retweet hashtags are used to promote tweets and encourage them to be retweeted by what's known as "retweet accounts." A retweet is simply a reposting of a tweet. When you retweet a tweet it gets shared with all of your followers. You can retweet both your own tweets or tweets from others. Sometimes Twitter users include "RT" at the beginning of a tweet to let their followers know that the tweet belongs to someone else but that's not really necessary since Twitter already notes when a tweet has been retweeted.
A retweet account is an account that picks up interesting tweets on a specific topic and then retweets those tweets. Many people follow retweet accounts because they're interested in the subject matter but would rather have it curated for them than search through the hashtags and accounts themselves. To get your tweets on the radar of a retweet account, you'll want to either tag the retweet account in the tweet or use their recommended hashtag to get your content seen and potentially retweeted.
Even if you're posting about broad topics like #Marketing, #eCommerce, or #B2B, it's still important to include hashtags in your posts. As we've mentioned, hashtags will help interested parties find your content, expanding your reach, and increasing brand awareness.
Add (the Right) Twitter Hashtags to Your Marketing Strategy
When you use Twitter hashtags the right way, you can effectively build a community of like-minded, engaged people. Using the Twitter hashtag tips we've included here, you're well on your way to increased brand recognition. Take a look at some of your competitors to see what they're doing on Twitter. Then, do it better.