what does a hashtag do on twitter?
- Use #(symbol) before the keyword without a space in between, as part of the tweet message.
- Clicking on link created by hashtag, takes the user to all other tweets marked with that hashtag.
- There is no rule to the number of hashtags you can have in one tweet but ideal is not more than 2.
- Popular hashtags become trending topics.
Where do Hashtags Come From?
This is a common question for anyone who wants to create a new hashtag. It is not an official product of Twitter. Hashtags have been created by twitter users to fulfill the need for group discussion on a topic of common interest.
Example -In March 2014, a news broke out that MH370 – Plane of Malaysian airlines went missing in the sky.
Suddenly somebody spread it on twitter with #MH370 and now people interested in reading more about it, directly search for #MH370 and discovery at the time of writing this post is that – Plane was on autopilot, While investigations are still on. It doesn’t take long time for such news to go viral and spreads among thousands of people.
Correct use of hashtags.
- Be sure of relevance of hashtag to the tweet.
- Don’t spam the word, best practice – add no more than 2 hashtags in a one tweet, Learn to create promoted trends.
To leverage on #wordlcup, McDonalds promoted #FryFutbol and within few days it became so popular that in June 2014, it has started showing as top trend on home page of twitter users in 57 countries.
- If your hashtag is not searchable on twitter then check -Does it contain only numbers or what are probable reasons.
Using hashtags is a powerful way to spread the news and go viral for your brand awareness. Keep your followers engaged with news about an event or build following for the brand. It is a method if not done right,Can backfire and do more harm than good.
How to find twitter hashtags to boost your tweet performance
You can increase the traffic to your blog posts using twitter in a variety of ways, but if you are not using the right hashtag, then it will not help much.
- Hashtag.org– This is the most popular website to search twitter hashtags. Search for the hashtag you want to use, a graph will show its search number for last 24 hours by each hour of the day. This can also help you to find the most suitable time of the day for the tweet. Also for context you can see the tweets done by people with that hashtag.
- What the Trend – Visit the home page of what the trend, you will see the top trending hashtags, this can be seen for you location as well. If your objective is to go for hashtags that have been steady in last 30 days on trends, then go to reports. You will see trends of last 30 days. Go down to the end and you will see hashtags that are spam, avoid using them.
- Trendsmap – It tracks twitter hashtags as per location on a map. You may want to target a particular country for your traffic, for which you can visit Trendsmap and see which particular hashtag is trending in that area.
- Twubs –It is a community of twitter users, who form groups and chat on hashtag topics of their interest. Just visit Twubs, enter a keyword into the search box, it will show you group members snapshot for that particular hashtag. Register for a login and you are good to go. This can help you broaden your reach and stay focused.
While it is important to look at the tools and use them wisely and do everything possible to make them viral. It is as the same time also important to look at cases where use of hashtags has backfired and PR teams behind the creation had a difficult time controlling the same.
Examples where use of hashtags backfired- Apply Caution
#QantasLuxury–This hashtag used for all the wrong reasons by travelers who got sick ( after having food on board) and had to be hospitalized because of Gastrointestinal problem ( screen shot of 2 tweets).
PR experts said that this was Australia’s biggest PR failure of 20011 and a classic example of social media backfire.
#Susananalbumparty-This hashtag was created by PR agency of British Singer – Susan Boyle. Intention was to promote her new album ‘Standing Ovation”. The creators did not spend enough time reviewing how the hashtag looked, until it was re tweeted by several critics and became trending topic.
Due care and diligence is needed before sending messages with hashtag, to see where to capitalize, or to see that it is not misunderstood. ( Sus Anal Bum party). Lesson here was also to show a hashtag with tweet to few peers, may be someone can spot the entendre.
#MuslimRage–Hashtag was created by News week Magazine in September 2012 for its readers to debate and discuss the issue but it went completely out of hand, people started sharing outrageous posts about Muslim culture and practices.
Learning here was that you need to be more sensitive when creating hashtags about Politics, Race or Religion. In this case News week had to wait for the issue to die its natural death.
#McDstories–In January 2012, Mc Donalds sent tweet to its followers to share their positive experience at fast food chain. People started sharing their horror stories and it went viral within hours. Mc Doanalds had no choice but to withdraw the tweet within hours, but people continued re tweeting.
Learning here was that with every new hashtag creation, should have a backup plan in place to prevent negative experiences getting viral.
Before you tweet with a new hashtag, it is important to check on the following, which can help you prevent failure–
- Review earlier interactions with users, to see how people react to your hashtag.
- Do check, whether the hashtag has been used by anyone before and if yes then in what context.
- Do a search for the hashtag word to see what comes online.
- Have backup ready, for the worst thing that people could post.
- Consult others, who have experience on using hashtags, to possibly come up with bright usage ideas.
- If you are in doubt, just don’t do it.
Well by now You would have understood what does a hashtag do on Twitter? There is an interest among users and brands to know whether hashtag works on Facbook? We have a blog on this as well, click here to check out the same.
I am anticipating a question from you – Can I own a hashtag?
Answer is – No.
Can I register my hashtag, Answer is – yes
Registering your hashtag does not mean ownership like a domain. You can stake your claim on hashtag through this registration at Twub.com or at Hashtag.org This will add your name to the hashtag directory, which allows you to get into more detail to mention what the hashtag is for. We booked #Technofare from Twub.com, which is the domain name of this blog.
This registration does not prevent any one from using this hashtag for something which is entirely different but this is just a way to say that Hey Friends, “We are using this Hashtag”.Post registration, you should encourage your supporters and fans to use your hashtag in their tweets.
Whether you are using hashtags in Twitter, Facebook or any other social media, hashtags are a powerful way to connect with your potential customers and like minded people. Read about 5 things you should never do with hashtags.
I hope the above explains what is a hashtag and how to use it correctly. Do put your comments in box below to share additional ideas or stories that you may be aware of.