Twitter celebrates #HashtagDay with top five tips for brands
To celebrate the hashtag’s 11th birthday, Twitter Australia’s Angus Keene gives his top five tips for brands to engage with audiences using hashtags.
Eleven years ago, Chris Messina (@chrismessina) Tweeted #barcamp, and thus the humble hashtag was born.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina™ (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
Little did we know the formative role this symbol would play in building online communities and the dissemination of information across the internet. 11 years later, a global average of 125 million hashtags are shared every day on Twitter, helping users to see what’s happening around the world and explore what is being talked about right now.
Not only meant for public use, the hashtag has evolved into a pivotal tool for brands looking to tie together integrated marketing efforts and make their brand messages heard far and wide.
But how should brands use hashtags in Tweets or formulate their own for a specific campaign? Here are a few simple rules to follow to make your hashtags a #success.
The short answer is seven characters — that was the average character length of the top 500 most popular Twitter hashtags last year in Australia.
The rule of thumb is to stick to the length that gets your message across without being overly wordy. Remember, less is more. If you can create a punchy one word slogan or recognisable acronym for your campaign, then you are far more likely to see it gain momentum.
While brands with short names can squeeze their name into the hashtag — like #NABMiniLegends — don’t expect your brand slogan to translate to a hashtag. If you’re struggling to fit your whole campaign message into one word, try to limit your hashtag to three or fewer words. More than this and it becomes too hard for people to remember.
Should we use capital or lowercase? If your hashtag has more than one word or is a partial acronym (for example #SCTop10) then use capitals to give users some easy clarity around the components that make up your Tweet. There is nothing worse than a message being twisted to mean something it doesn’t. Using capital letters is an easy way to help avoid this.
Never go full caps lock unless you want to appear to be shouting at your audience.
We’ve all seen the influencer posts #that #hashtag #every #word. However, excessively using hashtags dilutes the message you’re trying to get across. Best practice is to limit it to one, and a max of three where absolutely necessarily..
Also important is to ensure the hashtags are relevant to your cause. For example, if your brand is jumping on board a big movement or major event then it absolutely makes sense to include relevant hashtags in your Tweet. But be sure they are relevant to your brand, and you have authority to use it. Your customers will lose faith if they think your brand is just looking for social media attention.
If you’re confident that the hashtag is universally funny and not offensive or confusing, then humour is a great weapon for brands looking to connect with their customers and drive engagement for a campaign. That being said, tread with caution and look at all angles before deciding to opt for a humorous hashtag. Pass it by numerous people inside and outside of your immediate social circle to make sure it has widespread appeal.
Unless your campaign is some kind of mystery treasure hunt then always explain what your hashtag means to your followers and give them a reason to use it. Whether it’s an actual prize or just recognition in the form of a Retweet, your audience will respond better when it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
So there you have it. The hashtag has been a gift to brands for 11 years and this will continue for many years to come. Follow these five simple rules and you will be building online communities around your brand in no time!
Angus Keene is sales director at Twitter Australia
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