Let’s begin where the idea started. At the time, Twitter was a new beast, micro-blogging was seen as a bit odd, how could you ever get a message across in only 140 characters? Yet it very quickly caught on, helped along with the fact you could text a tweet on the go (yep, before smartphones that was a thing).
The trouble was, if you weren’t used to the site and how to browse it effectively, it was difficult to find content about things you wanted to hear about. Chris’s idea quickly took off a few months later when people were using Twitter to talk about the San Diego fires and grouping them together with the hashtag #sandiegofire.
Yet it wasn’t until two years later that Twitter fully integrated the hashtag into their site by automatically adding a hyperlink to a hashtag, like they are today.
Lee, we don’t care about the history just tell us how to use these weird characters!
Fine, fine, fine. One of the best ways of using them is to create your own brand hashtag, which can be as simple as your company name. It’s a great way of tracking what people are saying about you, but also an easy way to talk back to your customers. If they tweet something nice about you, respond, they tweet a complaint, respond! Having a hashtag makes it much simpler to keep an eye on these things.
You must also remember the character limit (240 characters, including spaces) so keep a good balance between text and hashtags.
Next, always do a bit of research on the topic and see which hashtags are used most often. You want your tweet to appear in that feed and people to interact with it, retweet it, like it, reply etc. #FF is a great one to use, it means Follow Friday, the idea is you tag some people you follow and think others should be as well. It’s cross promotion at it’s simplest. You’re more likely to get tagged in future #FF posts and be followed by people discovering you on the feed.
Oh, and one last thing. Read your hashtag! I repeat, read your hashtag! There have been numerous disasters in the past, as hashtags don’t contain spaces, so read, reread and get someone else to read it before putting it on the Internet where the embarrassment will never leave you. On that note, this is my favourite from 2012 #susanalbumparty.
Susan Boyle’s PR team will forever regret #susanalbumparty so please remember to capitalise your hashtags and read them!