Yes! I am going to explain how hashtags work on Twitter. Many people feel this is old news, but since I keep having people ask me to explain it to them during my social media and content marketing workshops, I thought I would just explain it properly in this post!
Hashtags are Twitter’s way of filtering out the topics on Twitter. To make a hashtag, you just put a # sign next to a word – without a space.
You can make up your own, or search Twitter for the most commonly used one on a particular topic.
The basic use is to add specific keywords, usually at the end of a tweet. Hashtags are one word or several words together – without any punctuation marks or spaces. A lot of people mistakenly put hyphens, quote marks, apostrophes or spaces – this just breaks the hashtag word into two – so avoid this please! Keep those words stuck together.
They are useful in 3 main ways
- To get your tweet to be seen by more people – as anyone may be looking for or clicking on a hashtag and would find your tweet
- To find what people are saying about a particular topic – just search in the search box for the hashtag, or click on a hashtag
- To understand what people are talking about on Twitter, as they are added to the end of tweets to label the tweet as a certain topic
Some people overdo their use of hashtags – they make every word in their tweet a hashtag. Avoid this practice, as it makes you look like a noob!
1st way: Identifying a topic as a “label” at the end of the tweet
Most of the time they are used at the end of the tweet for topics, events, TV shows, or news stories.
You made that tweet your own #XFactor2016 https://t.co/hxgVxFN5fx
— andrew slaughter (@andrew07779) July 20, 2016
@topleftdesign We found Mike’s companions… #TLDTreasureHunt pic.twitter.com/t5cFLa8Ouk
— Kevin Plattret (@kplattret) June 11, 2013
A US property giant is planning a £1 billion post-Brexit spending spree in London. #UKproperty #EstateAgents https://t.co/lqGnQHpzwp
— Goodlord (@sogoodlord) July 13, 2016
Passed a woman hanging bedsheets on a makeshift clothesline between a lamppost and a ‘no parking’ sign, like an urban #BearGrylls
— Torvhaug (@neilmoir) July 23, 2016
3 Ingenious Ways to Create Data-Driven Marketing Campaigns https://t.co/m7LS4aDSQ8 #data #bigdata pic.twitter.com/BD8u4LrnzS
— Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas) July 21, 2016
Is your refrigerator running, cause if so I’d vote for it #Presidentialelections
— Lonnie (@Lonnielabonte) July 18, 2016
“People Don’t Take Trips. Trips Take People.” John Steinbeck. https://t.co/7OqlRsRPXG #travel #adventure pic.twitter.com/PPFEbQazLl
— Travel Destinations (@LuxuryTravel77) July 24, 2016
2nd way: Used inside a sentence
Sometimes hashtags can be used inside the tweet, as part of the sentence. I usually avoid this, as I prefer adding them to the end of the tweet, but sometimes, if you don’t go overboard, it makes sense. Here are some good examples!
New on the blog: How to harness #data to understand customer sentiment https://t.co/WnKcEKI9gQ pic.twitter.com/fjeGXC5EMD
— IBM Watson (@IBMWatson) July 17, 2016
Discover #London‘s beauty through the eyes of its best photographers: pic.twitter.com/otdfnZ0pw6
— secret_london (@secret_london) July 23, 2016
Here #Pidgey widgey come flap your wings on my face on the #hottestdayoftheyear #PokemonGOuk #drinktg #niceicebaby pic.twitter.com/5IiPgmLgqE
— Tg Green Teas (@DrinkTg) July 19, 2016
Fun moments being a #nanny haha pic.twitter.com/OCxkKbxXB2
— Ashley (@MissyGotGame) July 22, 2016
3rd way: Hashtags for adding meaning and feeling
But the real Twitter experts go one step beyond! They add hashtags at the end of the tweet to evoke extra meaning or emotion. These can be one word or a group of words stuck together. Try this – but like anything – don’t overdo it!
Happy Birthday @MichaelColander! Never going to the beach with you ever again. #embarrassing pic.twitter.com/pLSrAKsZWd
— Lydia Hill (@lydhill) July 14, 2016
Get flu shot, wash hands alot, avoid touching public things, eat right. Get sick. #overworked
— Ben (@BenRobertsEsq) July 7, 2016
@tamsinfd we need to catchup! #codependencyisthenewblack
— Keren Lerner (@topleftdesign) March 15, 2013
What about other social media channels?
Hashtags started on Twitter, which is now a veteran social media channel, but it has seeped into other social media channels. In brief, here are my recommendations:
- Hashtags on Instagram: I would recommend adding hashtags to the end of Instagram captions or in the comments.
- Hashtags on Facebook: I am not a fan – usually I avoid this, and to me it seems weird when people use Hashtags on Twitter.
- Hashtags on LinkedIn: No need to have these! They aren’t even clickable on LinkedIn.
I hope this has helped you see the light! Tweet me and let me know what you think.