To hashtag, or not to hashtag — that is the question

A quick lesson in Twitter engagement that will help to increase your likes, RTs, follows and mentions

Not too long ago, I met a guy who said he does not believe in using hashtags on Twitter, which floored me.

Threw me off my game.

Made me choke on my box of water.

“Who in their right mind doesn’t believe in hashtagging?” I thought.

And this guy wasn’t a dumb guy. Overall, pretty smart dude. But, let’s be honest, he doesn’t have many followers on Twitter.

And now I know why. 😂


The first rule of Hashtag School is: You do not talk about Hashtag School.

If your engagement — meaning actions taken (likes, RTs, comments) — is low, one thing you can do is throw some hashtags on it! But, not just any hashtags, you have a have some relevant hashtags.

You can use them to:

  • Find friends
  • Target potential customers
  • Ride the wave of a trending topic
  • Gain exposure to a new audience
  • Track a contest, promotion, event or campaign
  • Conduct a Twitter chat
  • Follow a topic of interest
  • Help brand yourself
  • Get information about, or connect with people at, an event

Hashtags are an integral part of Twitter. They are the glue that holds topics and communities together. Do never diss the hash.


The second rule of Hashtag School is: You DO NOT talk about Hashtag School!

If you’re confused about hashtags and what they do (which could be the case with the guy that told me he does not believe in them) I have a few ways to explain these lovely little things:

  1. Hashtags are like sections of a book store (think #scifi #newage #selfhelp #poetry).
  2. Hashtags are like AOL keywords. Anyone remember those? 😃
  3. Hashtags are like the Dewey Decimal System, which is a classification system used in libraries.

In other words, they’re a tool invented by some geniuses so you can get what you need!

Don’t rely on simply browsing your timeline. Get targeted. Go specific. Be efficient. Using hashtags is really the best way to find the things you want to read— and a great way to make sure that people find your tweets, too!

Here is the official Twitter definition of a hashtag, along with some tips for using them:

Third rule of Hashtag School: If someone yells “stop!”, goes limp, or taps out, the engagement is over.

Yes, hashtags can be tricky at first, but after you begin to experience the wondrous nature of these little things, you’re going to be #amazed. ✨

Here are a few tips:

  • Find relevant hashtags by using the search box. For example, if you sell hats and you want to find customers, start with a simple search for #hats to see what hashtags people are using. You might discover something fun, like #dadhats. Yep. It’s a thing! Also, think about what “hat people” might like; search for different styles; and explore fashion influencer tweets to get more ideas.
  • If you are launching a contest, campaign, Twitter chat, event or promotion and want to track it, pick a unique hashtag that’s easy to remember. Do a search to make sure it isn’t being used by others. Otherwise, your stats will be wonky. Example: #SXSW2017
  • Check the trending hashtags out every day to see what’s happening. Then, tweet something related to a trending topic — or RT tweets you like. To find what topics are trending each day, either sign up for my social media tool, Kittr, and get each day’s trending hashtags delivered to you every morning, or see what’s trending at the moment (real time only) by clicking the Home tab in Twitter’s navigation.
  • If a hashtag interests you, or it’s relevant to your business or brand, tweet about it. That is a great way to meet people and to increase your engagement. For example, what’s your favorite song from the 1990s? Tweet about it using #ThrowbackThursday!
  • Does all of this tweeting with hashtags seem like too much? If so, just start replying to people’s tweets to begin a conversation.
  • Here are some examples of hashtags with content you might want to see versus looking through tweets in your timeline: #Chocolate #SuperBowl #GlutenFree #SXSW

Fourth rule of Hashtag School: Only two hashtags to a tweet.

And last, but not least … don’t spam people with hashtags.

Use one or two (three at the most), then get out. The goal with tweets is to make them look nice, clean and easy to ready. Too many hashtags just makes a mess.

Ideally, you will want to work the hashtags into your content.

Example:

This tweet promoted a #SustainiaLiving Twitter chat.

But, if you can’t make that happen, then put them at the end of your tweet, after the messaging and link.

Example:

I tweeted this during an #AdobeChat Twitter chat.

So, to hashtag, or not to hashtag?

Well, unless you are Justin Bieber or Katy Perry — two people who can tweet almost anything and it turns to gold — I suggest that you do.

Otherwise, you’re going to tweet “Working on something special” — then you are just going to be sitting around, waiting for people to see it, and it ain’t gonna happen.

Then, JB is going to tweet the same thing and just piss you the eff off.

The point I am trying to get across here is that hashtags are amazing. Don’t let anyone tell you any different as they sit there and watch you choke on your boxed water.

#Retaliate, my friends.