Twitter hashtags are used to identify conversations related to specific topics. Anyone can include a hashtag in a tweet. You can create your own hashtags or use hashtags that other people are already tweeting about. Just place a # in front of a keyword, include it in a tweet, and you’ve used a hashtag!
But how do you use Twitter hashtags the right way? Following are 10 tips to help you write better tweets with relevant hashtags that help you engage with other Twitter users and get the most out of your efforts. Whether you tweet for fun, for your career, or for business, these tips will make you a better tweeter.
Always write your tweets before you add hashtags to them. What you say is more important than how you tag it.
Shorter hashtags are always better than longer hashtags. Don’t waste valuable real estate by eating up characters in the 140-character tweet limit with lengthy hashtags that are too specific. The longer your hashtags, the less useful the actual content of your tweet becomes.
Know your hashtags before you tweet, and make sure you use the right ones to engage with the right people. In other words, use tools like the Twitter hashtag search feature, Hashtags.org, What the Trend, or Twubs to search for hashtags, and choose the ones that are most appropriate for and popular enough to help you reach your goals for each tweet. Of course, you can always start your own hashtags, too!
Take some time to format your tweets that include hashtags correctly. Don’t pile up a bunch of hashtags at the beginning or end of your tweets. Make sure there is a space between your hashtag and the words that precede and follow it in your tweet. Also, consider how the length of your tweet and position of the hashtag will be affected when someone retweets your original tweet. Retweets append the other user’s @username to the beginning of the tweet, which means characters might get cut off of your original tweet to stay within the 140-character limit. Furthermore, hashtags should be formatted in CamelCasewith no spaces between words and the first letter of each word capitalized.
Don’t overload your Twitter timeline or your individual tweets with hashtags. Instead, limit the use of hashtags to no more than two per tweet, and only include a hashtag in a tweet if that hashtag is truly meaningful and useful.
You should monitor the hashtags that are most important to you using a tool like TweetDeck or HootSuite, so you can jump into conversations that matter to you in a timely manner.
If you have a specific topic that you want to talk about with a group of people via Twitter, you can schedule a specific time to discuss the topic in a tweet chat on your public Twitter timelines using a predetermined hashtag. You can also join tweet chats related to hashtags that matter to you. Use a tool like TweetChat.com to find, start, and participate in real-time chats based on Twitter hashtags.
Just because you include a hashtag in one of your tweets doesn’t mean that it will be retweeted, replied to, and mentioned by a large group of people. In other words, don’t expect to see your hashtag appear on Twitter’s list of trending topics.
Hashtag hijacking happens when you publish a tweet with a Twitter hashtag (that you or someone else started) but that hashtag is “stolen” by members of the broader Twitter user population. Those people use the hashtag to share tweets that have nothing to do with the original topic or to paint something related to the original topic in a negative light. Therefore, think long and hard before you start using a hashtag with your name, company name, product name, and so on in it. You never know what might happen to that hashtag. Sometimes the risk isn’t worth the reward, and only you can make that decision for yourself.
Hashtags can live outside of Twitter, too. Use them on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, in tag clouds, and in any other social media profiles or websites that you can to give your tweets more exposure.