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Iceni Magazine | April 1, 2020

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Back to the…Basics – #Hashtags

Paul_Kirk_profile_photo2013-norybnThis month in the spirit of the recent #BTTF (that’s Back To The Future) celebrations I thought I’d take a look at one of Twitter’s core features – the powerful #hashtag.

If you’re new to Twitter or social media you can’t help but notice the use of #hashtags – what are they and how should you use them? Well here’s a few pointers to get you started.

Hashtags began on Twitter but have since been taken up by other social media platforms including Instagram and Facebook to name just two.

The use of a hashtag identifies ‘keywords’ within a tweet/post that other people can search for within the social platform and engage with and always starts with the symbol #. A hashtag jumps the boundaries of follower limitations and opens up the possibilities of your tweet/post being seen by others that don’t necessarily follow you.

It’s now commonplace for movies, tv programmes, national or local events to have hashtags enabling it’s fans/followers to meet, comment and debate together – something that, pre social media and the internet, was the exclusive remit of fan clubs and newsletters.

Take for instance the Great British Bake Off #GBBO or the recent Back To The Future Day #BTTFDay – do a search for these in Twitter and you can then see all the tweets which have this hashtag – that’s the secret of #hashtags they’re searchable (in Twitter and social media management apps) and visible to everyone. If the hashtag is talked about enough it can even start trending across the network – just like the two I mentioned above. Now that’s potential promotional gold dust!

Hashtags also help with business networking. There’s a whole host of business hours on Twitter – think of them like virtual networking but in the comfort of your own home, on the sofa, with a cuppa. I participate in #norfolkhour which runs 3 times a week and enables me to make connections and grow awareness of myself and my services. These Twitter hours are not about hard sell or ‘robot’ retweeting everything you see – it’s about building long term relationships, being interested in your fellow participants, offering advice, sharing interesting content, engaging and supporting each other.

Creating a hashtag around your event, club, promotion, cause or product is a great way to encourage promotion via social media. Check first that someone else isn’t using it, or if they are is it appropriate for you to use it as well. Steer clear of using hashtags associated with big brands, if you’ve a similar product or service as you could be open to brand infringement – and if in doubt, seek legal guidance.

Ideally have a short hashtag or one that has maybe no more than 3 words as you don’t want use up all of your 140 character limit available on Twitter (other social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram don’t suffer this character limit restriction). If you use multiple words it’s an idea to capitalise each word in the hashtag to make it more legible and don’t forget you can’t use spaces between words! If you’re going to use a hashtag for an event, promotion or product ensure you include it on all your promotional material whether it’s online or in print to give it as much exposure as possible.

When you do use hashtags use them in moderation and purposely – try to use one or two hashtags at most, when they’re relevant, per tweet and don’t forget you can include #hashtags in your Twitter profile description – something often overlooked!

You might not be aware that if you’re using the desktop version of Twitter you can save hashtags for quicker access on your other devices – they’ll then appear in your ‘Saved Searches’! If you’re using a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social you can save these as streams too!

Finally, and most importantly if you’re using a hashtag make sure you spell it correctly – there’s nothing worse than mis-spelling a hashtag. It looks unprofessional and lazy.

So there you have it, a back to basics look at the #hashtag – so start harnessing it’s power in your social media.

If you want to know more about how #hashtags, Twitter and social media can help your business, get in touch with me at http://paulkirkdesign.co.uk or at @PKirk_designer

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