Have you ever caught yourself not fully grasping why Twitter hashtags even exist and what’s their impact on your tweets?
The hashtag (#) is definitely a feature that has defined Twitter already from its first days. In fact, it’s been so successful that other social media like Facebook, Instagram and Google+ have incorporated them as well.
But what’s the deal with Twitter hashtags in particular? Let’s find out by addressing the four most common questions asked.
1. What is a hashtag?
Ok, let’s talk basics people! I know that if you tweet for a living you’re probably rolling your eyes right now, but sometimes starting from the absolute basics helps get some perspective.
Hashtags highlight a keyword or a topic in a tweet and are used to basically organize Twitter conversations. For example, by clicking on or searching for #WorldCup on Twitter you’re able to see all the tweets containing this hashtag in real time.
The father of the hashtag is Chris Messina who had this brilliant idea back in 2007.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina™ (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
Oh wait, Chris? You mean #likethis? #Nailedit
2. Why should I use hashtags?
Hashtags are a great way to monitor in real time events or topics that are relevant to you. What’s more, using hashtags in your posts helps you expand the reach of your tweets and boost your engagement rates.
According to Dan Zarrella, tweets with one or more hashtags are 55% more likely to be retweeted than tweets without.
Need more proof? Another research by Buddy Media found that tweets with hashtags reach two times more engagement than tweets that without hashtags. In other words, using hashtags in your tweets means that you could reach out to double as many people.
Bottom line is, you need hashtags.
3. How many hashtags should I use?
If you’re thinking the more the better, think again. Social media research shows that the more the hashtags in a tweet, the less the engagement.
In fact here’s how it feels like when you’re using #WayTooManyHashtags.
4. How do I choose which hashtags to use?
First of all you need to think about what is relevant to the content of your tweet and your brand as a whole. Next, take a look at the hashtags your competitors and influencers in your field are using. This is a good way to discover some of the hashtags you should be using in your tweets. Last but not least, use a cool tool like RiteTag to evaluate the hashtags you or your competitors are using and decide which hashtags are more likely to boost the engagement rate of your tweets.
All in all we’re grateful to Chris and all the tweeters after him, for making the hashtags what they are. But always remember the rules of happy hashtagging: use but do not abuse.
Got any questions about hashtags? Shoot ’em in the comments below!