Why use Twitter?
Twitter is a very popular and powerful tool for social media marketing. Where else can you get free exposure to millions of interested users? But mastering Twitter takes a bit of effort. In this post, we’ll cover how to find and use hashtags.
The techniques described are specific for our Twitter example. However, similar techniques can be used for any medium using hashtags including Facebook, Instragram, Pinterest etc. Hashtags are widely used.
What is a hashtag?
For true beginners out there, the term hashtag made elicit some head scratching. What are they? Well hashtags are simply words or phrases preceded by a # sign. By searching for hashtags, users can find posts that relate to a similar topic. For example, #CocaCola will bring up all posts related to the popular soda.
Why use hashtags?
The most popular reason to use hashtags is to get exposure for tweet. When first using Twitter, users typically have no followers. Any tweet sent out will be like shouting into an empty forest. Would anyone hear the message? However, tagging the tweet with some hashtags will improve chances that someone would come across your tweet. For example, a users with absolutely no followers could still reach an audience if they tweeted something like this:
Are sodas responsible for America's obesity epidemic? #CocaCola
Now anyone reading through #CocaCola may come across this post and respond or retweet. Hashtags are indeed very powerful.
How do you find the right hashtags?
Now we’re coming across the our main topic. How to find and use hashtags that will improve your tweets visibility. The first step is to find a list of hashtags. There are many tools which assist you. Simply Google “how to find popular twitter hashtags” or the like. For our experiment we used Hashtagify.me. Our main motivation is they provide a free tool but there were other reasons:
- List hashtags according to a search term and display popularity
- Ability to dive into hashtag and find other related hashtags
- Create lists (they call them Bundles) to keep track of your newly mined hashtags
Here are the steps we took to search using their website:
- First you need to find their hashtag tool. Clicking on “Hashtags” on their top menu bar brings up this submenu where you can select “Find Hashtags”.
- Next a popup will allow you to choose Search the Hashtag Encyclopedia.
- At the top right you can enter your desired hashtag search term.
- And now they’ll display a list of hashtags!
Which hashtags should you use?
When viewing your lists you can see details such as the hashtags popularity, correlation, weekly and monthly trends. Popularity of course is a measure of how often a term is used. Correlation is a measure of how closely the hashtag matches with your search term. For example, #digitalart might come up with #art as well as #photographry. #art has a correlation of 36.1% which means its pretty similar compared to #photography which has only 5.1%. However, one can see that both those terms might be relevant to someone searching for “digital art”.
The great thing about this search is you’ll find hashtags you’ve never heard of but are highly relevant to your posts. Translation: Strange hashtags that you want to use! For example, searching for “dental hygiene” hashtags found #dentalhygiene. But strangely enough also came up with #RDH which a quick google search shows is “registered dental hygienists”. So even the terms have a low correlation, are actually very related.
Should you use terms that are highly correlated (matching) or not?
Well the benefits of being highly correlated mean the audience might be interested in the same things. However, having terms that are NOT highly correlated can be good because you’re creating a bigger audience. It all depends on your goal and your tweet. If your tweet is very specific like this:
2016 best strategies for dentists to increase their earnings. #dentists
Then you probably want a highly correlated hashtag grouping. On the other hand, something more general like this could benefit from a wider audience with lower correlated hashtags:
Improved flossing can reduce cavities by 75%! #dentalhygiene #healthyliving
How many hashtags should you use?
There’s no definite rule but the biggest problem is hashtags count in your 140 character count. This means it’s even more important to choose your hashtags wisely.
At this point you should have a number of hashtags gathered from your search. I have about 23. I divided my hashtags into groups such as “Online Learning”, “Art Education”, “Digital Art”. Now whenever I make a post, I quickly cut and paste from my list of hashtags to guarantee visibility.