Believe it or not, it has now been 9 years since the first hashtag ever.
The whole hashtag era started on Twitter, but has since spread over various social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Tumblr.
It has, quite literally, taken the whole social media world to the next level.
If used properly, hashtags can completely upgrade your online presence – so let’s jump in and see what’s in it for you.
What’s so great about hashtags?
Simply put, hashtags make it easy to connect with various people and businesses on social media through marking an update with a related hashtag.
Even though hashtags work on all the networks mentioned above, we will stick to Twitter for the purpose of this article.
The greatness of hashtags lies in the reach they may have. If you, for example, have 10 Twitter followers and you tweet with a carefully chosen hashtag, your tweet can be seen by hundreds (or thousands!) of relevant people.
This kind of reach gives you a better chance of retweets, which results in an even wider reach, and there is your perfect loop that no one ever wants to leave.
That’s the great power of hashtags – so stay tuned and learn what it takes to boost your Twitter reach.
Why is Twitter so much different than other networks?
The shortest explanation: 140 characters and the speed at which the feed moves.
This makes it much harder to stand out on Twitter, especially in comparison with Facebook that has its own algorithm which decides what content to put in front of each user, and with Instagram, who’s feed also moves quickly, but is much more easily digested due to its visual nature.
Another thing is that Facebook and Instagram allow for much longer posts.
Working with only 140 characters – or even less, in case you include an image, a link or both – means you can’t fit this article’s first paragraph in a tweet.
It implies that every word should earn its spot in a tweet.
And, finally – it means that no irrelevant or redundant hashtags should waste those precious characters, which brings us to our next point.
How many hashtags do I need?
You probably realize by now that we definitely won’t be telling you to use 30 hashtags like you might be doing on Instagram (we are not advising you to use 30 hashtags on Instagram, either – but Instagram allows you to do so).
There are various reasons we ask you that, but here are some main ones.
Converting a sentence into a bunch of hashtags makes user experience less pleasant – converting a phrase of 2-3 keywords into hashtags makes much more sense.
Another important reason – and you might be thinking this already – hashtags such as #this have no value whatsoever.
No number of hashtags is ideal, but we strongly recommend to keep it up to a maximum of five – anything over it will make your tweet look spammy.
Over time, you will be working with various tweet lengths, especially when working with images and links that reduce the available number of characters to begin with.
This will sometimes allow you to use one hashtag, sometimes up to five, giving you a great chance to play around with it and see what works best.
How to pick the right hashtags?
Everything we’ve talked about so far should give you a great picture of why hashtags on Twitter demand a fair amount of your time and effort.
Think about this process the same way you do about your ideal audience or your blog topics.
Focuse on words, phrases and ideas that are describing your business, your products and your field of expertise, and write down all the terms that come to your mind.
Once you have this, take every term and try to think of synonyms to those terms. Ideally, each group of synonyms you now have should be able to branch.
Once you have worked on all of your terms, you can sketch them down in a spreadsheet or any similar tool you like. That brings us to the most fun part – hashtag research!
There are plenty of tools that can help you perform a hashtag research – you can try them out and see what works best for you and which ones you find the easiest to use. Here are some of them:
Through the example of RiteTag, we want to show you some examples so you can get the idea of the power you get by performing a hashtag research (of course, you can use any tool that best suits you).
An important thing to note is that, just like we mentioned with Instagram best practices, a hashtag that’s being used by a lot of users doesn’t simply guarantee a good performance.
This is why the context of a hashtag (interactions, retweets etc.) and its analytics come in very handy.
Let’s look at the analysis we performed with RiteTag.
RiteTag is a great hashtag analysis tool as it offers information such as unique tweets and retweets per hour, percentage of tweets with images or links, and many other useful insights.
Here’s how it looks like when we analyse the hashtag #affiliate:
As you can see, there are 371 unique tweets with the #affiliate hashtag per hour. Of these 371, 21 are being retweeted.
Nearly all of them contain a link and only 6% an image.
By clicking on the full stats icons on the right hand side, we get more insights:
And we discover hashtags that should probably be ignored…
As you can see above, these insights include the top accounts using this hashtag, as well as recommendations for other related hashtags that will get you seen and overused hashtags that won’t help you stand out.
There are plenty of steps you can take based on this information.
The fact there is only 6% #affiliate tweets using an image, means there might be an opportunity to stand out with an eye-catching graphic.
You can look deeper into the top accounts using a hashtag and what types of accounts retweet these tweets.
Look at other things they are tweeting about, and see if you can use that information, or maybe join an existing conversation.
You can then repeat the same process with the similar hashtags that were recommended by RiteTag.
Then, of course, you can perform this very same analysis to all the words and terms you had written down earlier in this section.
We know this seems like quite of bit of work – and it is – but you can only benefit from it, so it’s worth your time…
…rather than simply #randomly #hashtagging #your #tweets and not knowing the results of it.
Tweet, test, adjust and repeat
One thing that a lot of social media users tend to forget is that you can tweet about the same information more than once, using various bits of information each time you do.
This also represents your chance to try out various, well analysed hashtags in these tweets and see how they perform in comparison to each other.
Twitter Analytics tool represents a true goldmine when it comes to optimizing your tweets. By looking into each tweet’s analytics, you can understand which efforts lead to actual positive results and you then get to laser-focus your attention more efficiently.
This completes our Twitter hashtags best practices!
By implementing these steps of analysis, testing and tweaking your hashtags on Twitter, you can significantly improve your eCommerce business’ Twitter presence, bringing your products in front of the right eyes.
Good luck and don’t forget to have some fun in the process!