Tag Like a Pro
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, Twitter users worldwide have published upwards of 20,000 messages. The world’s fastest-moving self-publishing platform, Twitter content is generated so quickly, the Library of Congress is even struggling to keep up. Hashtags are a bit like life jackets for brands—when used correctly, they can support you and get you noticed in a wide sea of activity. It’s unfortunate that many of the hashtag efforts that make headlines are due to their misuse. (Brands who fail to research trending tags correctly lose fans and followers due to insensitivity.) To ensure you get all the right kinds of attention, join us in learning the basic principles of tagging the right way:
1. Write Before You Tag
Write your Tweets first, and add your hashtags second. What you say and how you say it will eclipse the importance of your chosen hashtag.
2. Keep Your Hashtags Short
Shorter hashtags are more readable than longer hashtags. You only have 140 characters to use, and many social media experts recommend keeping your content under 120 characters to increase your chances of earning a ReTweet. Julie Blakely of Postano recommends that you “keep [the hashtag] under 20 characters at the absolute maximum.”
By all accounts, two hashtags per Tweet are generally the upper limit. Avoid using hashtags that don’t add value to what you have to say. Research has indicated that Tweets with 3 or more hashtags have a lower engagement rate.
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4. Use Event Hashtags and Live Tweeting
Hashtags allow Twitter users and brands to get noticed for sharing their thoughts in real time. Take advantage of event hashtags to Tweet thoughts and make connections.
5. Display Your Event Hashtag Offline
If you’re hosting a conference, talk, or other offline event, openly display your event hashtag on registration materials or your presentation to encourage dialogue among guests.
6. Pick Brand Hashtags Carefully
The Internet is rife with stories of brands who inadverdently—or deliberately—picked hashtags that were the equivalent of troll bait. From the infamous #McDStories to #WaitroseStories, it’s prudent to identify whether your hashtag can be construed as ready to be hijacked.
7. Research Your Tags
If you’re planning on adding hashtags to your content to generate more views, Hashtags.org, What the Trend, or Twubs allows users to search for the most appropriate and relevant categories. If you’re planning on creating a unique hashtag, research is a great way to ensure your idea is truly unique.
8. Have Reasonable Expectations
Every small brand dreams of earning a spot among the trending hashtags. That dream is within reach, but there’s no guarantee your hashtag will take off. Have reasonable expectations and be ready to keep trying.
9. Space Out Your Tags
Don’t dump all of your hashtags at the beginning or end of your Tweet. If possible, use one in the middle and one at the end. This will create space and keep the focus on your content.
10. CamelCase is Your Friend
Capitalizing the first letter of each word in your hashtags is critical for readability. It can also ensure your point gets across. One of the tackiest hashtag fails of 2012 resulted from the misuse of CamelCase during the promotion of Susan Boyle’s new album, when the hashtag #SusanAlbumParty got into the wrong hands.
11. Monitor Hashtags
Use TweetDeck or HootSuite to track hashtags relevant to your industry. By setting up a stream of tagged Tweets, you can conveniently respond to prospect queries, connect with digital influencers, and discover new trending content.
12. Join and Host Twitter Tweet Chats
13. Try, Try Again
Hashtags can dramatically increase the chances you’ll receive ReTweets, replies, and mentions. There’s no guarantee, but if your tag doesn’t receive any attention, it doesn’t mean you should give up.
14. Avoid Hashtag Hijacking
Spammers love hashtags, too. Virtually every stream of trending tag is hijacked by some fishy-looking Twitter user promoting their product or service. If you don’t have anything valuable or relevant to add to a conversation, don’t jump in with self-promotion.
15. Don’t Open Yourself Up to Brand Damage
There are a few things social media managers can do to ensure they’re not at risk of a viral hashtag attack by trolls. Aside from ensuring that your hashtag can’t be construed as something negative or obscene, some Twitter experts recommend you avoid using any personal or company names, or referencing products specifically. It can draw less negative attention to your brand if your hashtag is more general.
16. Promote Your Tweets On Other Social Profiles
There’s a right and a wrong way to promote your hashtags on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or LinkedIn. Using hashtags in Facebook posts can look unprofessional, like you’re simply auto-publishing across multiple platforms. Inviting users to join the conversation on Twitter with a specified hashtag, on the other hand? That’s just good marketing.
17. Unlock Insights on Prospects
Monitoring industry-relevant hashtags or tags that are trending among your prospects can provide insight into conversations among your leads and clients. How do they interact, and what language do they use? Even if you’re not actively participating in the conversation, monitoring tags that are relevant to your market can help you perform buyer persona research.
What have you discovered about using hashtags on Twitter the right way?
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