Back to Basics: How to Use Hashtags on Twitter

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You know a hashtag when you see one.

Yet almost every time I see my grandparents, they ask me, “What is a hashtag?”

I usually respond with a giggle, but then again, there are probably others out there who don’t understand hashtags on Twitter and how they function. And that’s a shame, because hashtags are one of the most important tools for communicating with your audience on social media.

What is a Hashtag?

According to The Twitter Glossary, “A hashtag is any word or phrase immediately preceded by the # symbol. When you click on a hashtag, you'll see other Tweets containing the same keyword or topic.”

Hashtags on Twitter create and monitor conversations about topics of interest. When you use a hashtag on Twitter, it creates a link in your post that is directed to a search page. Once you are redirected to the search page, every tweet that contains the hashtag you used will be available to you. You can be part of conversations all over the world!

Why Would You Use a Hashtag?

One great reason to use hashtags on Twitter is to increase exposure. If you tweet without a hashtag, there is a lower chance of anyone besides your immediate followers seeing that tweet. If you use a hashtag in your tweet, however, your post could be exposed to others using the same hashtag.

An increase in exposure and traffic to your tweets can lead to more conversations with your target audience, an increase in Twitter followers, and more views from people of influence. Imagine if your tweet were featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. If you use the right hashtags on Twitter, it could be.

Another reason to use hashtags on Twitter is to contribute to a trending topic. When a topic or event is being talked about a lot on Twitter, the hashtag accompanying those tweets will begin to trend. A trending hashtag will show up in the “Discover” section of Twitter and will be noticed by many more users.

“Come in to your local @BurgerKing, recite a little bit of poetry, and receive a free medium fry! #NationalPoetryDay”

How Can Hashtags Benefit Your Business?

Do you want to expand your target audience? Do you want to talk to your customers and ask them questions? Of course you do! And hashtags are a great way to accomplish that.

By using a hashtag in a tweet or in a profile description, your business has a greater chance of being found by an existing customer or a potential client. American Airlines does a great job at incorporating originally-generated hashtags and trending hashtags to engage with its customers. For example, American Airlines often posts Throwback Thursday tweets with the hashtag #TBT which almost always trends every week. Originally-generated hashtags such as #AATeam allow customers to engage directly with the company and connect with other customers using the same hashtag. This type of free exposure is too beneficial to pass up!

But be careful—you don’t want to use too many hashtags

#UntilNextTime

 - Erin McMahon, Marketing Associate