Hashtags On Twitter For Business: The Beginner’s Guide {Part 1}

hashtags on twitter for business

As you’ve probably noticed – hashtags are everywhere on social media. Young social media users can’t even imagine using social media without a hashtag. #seriously. This is especially true for Twitter, where hashtags first became popular and quickly spread to Instagram, Pinterest and now, even Facebook.

hashtags on twitter for business

As a marketer, using hashtags in your Twitter strategy can be a great way to amplify your reach and generate more engagement. But first, you need to know how to use hashtags properly.

Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to use hashtags on Twitter for business.

What Is A Hashtag?

A hashtag is just a keyword or a phrase with a pound sign (#) in front of it. They are searchable and clickable on Twitter (and other social networks). #Technology and #SocialMediaMarketing are both examples of hashtags.

A hashtag is useful because you can use it to easily search Twitter for certain conversations surrounding a topic. Hashtags make it easier for people to find discussions about brands, events, contests, topics, etc.

How Do You Create A Twitter Hashtag?

twitter hashtags

There’s no skill behind creating a hashtag. All you need to do is place a pound sign (#) in front of the keyword or phrase you want to use as a hashtag. If you are using a phrase (with more than one word) as your hashtag, make sure to remove all spaces. So, “Trick or Treat” would become #TrickOrTreat.

Capitalization doesn’t matter when it comes to searching hashtags but it might be a good idea to capitalize the first letter of each word in your hashtag so it’s easier to read.

When creating hashtags on Twitter for business, it’s good to keep certain best practices in mind. This will help you get the most out of each hashtag you use in your tweets. I discuss this in more detail below.

Why Use Hashtags On Twitter For Business?

So okay, hashtags are popular amongst Twitter users but why should you, a business tweeter use hashtags on twitter for marketing? The number one reason for this is: User Engagement.

Hashtags are a great way to engage with your audience on Twitter. You can connect with your audience based on topics they’re interested in by using key, relevant hashtags in your tweets.

When using hashtags for particular campaigns or events, hashtags are also a great way of unifying your audience. Your audience can connect with you and others under one common hashtag and this is a great way of increasing interaction surrounding your brand.

Twitter Hashtags For Business: Best Practices

If you’re just starting out using Twitter hashtags, here are some best practices to follow to make sure you’re using them the right way for your business.

Be Unique

If you’re using your hashtag for a particular campaign, especially if it is an event, it’s a great idea to use a hashtag that is completely unique and relevant to your event only.

Go to search.twitter.com and search the hashtag you’re planning to use for your campaign or event. If it shows up too many uses already, you’re best switching to a new hashtag.

Real Life Example

#SxSW is the event hashtag for the South by South West conferences and festivals. The hashtag is simple and easily identifiable and when the event is on, you are likely to see hundreds of tweets surrounding the hashtag.

This helps to connect with others attending the conference but is also useful for those not attending to keep up with what is going on.

Another tool I personally find very useful is Tagboard. Tagboard will search the popular social media sites (not just Twitter), gather text, images, and video posts of your specified hashtag to provide you the big picture of what’s being said.

Real Life Example

Below, Pantene ran a promotion about great hair, where they encouraged people to find photos of hair they liked and tag it with #WantThatHair.  Now they can easily follow the discussion and see what kind of traction they get from this promotion.

If this were a contest, they could simply choose several posts and possibly reward a handful with a package of Pantene products.

pantene twitter hashtag #WantThatHair

#WantThatHair

Keep It TOPICAL

For every day usage within your tweets, it’s a good idea to use hashtags that are popularly used within your industry or are relevant to the topic.

Again, search Twitter to see whether the keyword you want to use is popular enough. If it is, it means enough people are using it and searching it so it’s worth adding your tweet to, as well.

Real Life Example

The oDesk Twitter account regularly posts a lot of interesting content but two topics they always seem to tweet about are: productivity and entrepreneurship. To make their tweets relevant, they always make use of topical, industry-relevant keywords.

twitter hashtags for business

oDesk tweet using productivity & entrepreneurship related hashtags

Short & Sweet Does It

When using hashtags in your tweets, be sure to keep them short, especially if you’re trying to create your own branded hashtag. Shorter hashtags are easier to remember and when you’re limited to 140 characters per tweet, you don’t want your hashtag to take up half your tweet.

Real Life Example

Coca Cola’s #ShareaCoke campaign is doing really well on Twitter, encouraging lots of people to tell their stories. The hashtag is catchy, short and to the point so it works really well.

 Do Your Research

Popular hashtags often reach a point on Twitter where so many people start using them that they start “trending”. Trending hashtags are a great way to jump in on a conversation BUT you must make sure you’re doing it in a relevant, interesting way. According to #Tagboard:

Two key proof points: in 2012, the hashtag was used as a call to action in just 7% of Super Bowl ads. By 2014’s big game, hashtag use in ads skyrocketed to 58%, with some ads featuring the hashtag on-screen for the entire duration of the ad.

twitter hashtags for business

Image source: Tagboard

Do your research and keep an eye on trending topics and the conversation on Twitter to see if you can use something that would be relevant to your business’s tweets.

Real Life Example

This tweet from McDonald’s is a great way to make use of a trending hashtag.

Word of Warning About Trending Topics

Another important reason to do your research is to make sure you don’t use a hashtag in the wrong context. If a particular topic is trending on Twitter, make sure you know before you decide to add the hashtag to your tweets. Many companies have made the mistake of jumping onto a trending hashtag without any research and have late realized it was a big, big mistake. Without proper research you could end up angering and alienating your customers with one simple tweet.

Real Life Example

The most recent example of this social media fail is DiGiorno pizza. The company jumped on the #WhyIStayed hashtag with this tweet:

twitter hashtag fail

Trending hashtag usage fail

This immediately led to a lot of backlash from the Twittersphere because the hashtag was being used by victims of domestic violence to help explain why it’s sometimes difficult to leave partners who abused them. DiGiorno pizza did no research and the tweet was obviously inappropriate for the topic. They deleted the original tweet and quickly tweeted this apology but the damage had been done and many were unhappy with the company’s lack of sensitivity.

At the time of writing this article, the company has not tweeted anything since September 10th.

Hashtags on Twitter are a very broad topic and there’s so much more left to say on how to make best use of it for your business.

Watch out for an upcoming post in which I will discuss hashtag strategies on how to best use hashtags on Twitter for business. Additionally, I will also show you how to measure the effectiveness of a hashtag campaign on Twitter.

Until then, if you have any questions about hashtags on Twitter for marketing your business, do leave me a comment.