We all use hashtags these days. Whether it is on Twitter, Instagram, or even Facebook, hashtags are an effective means of grouping conversations and finding others of a like mind online. But they are also a way to engage with your community, both directly and indirectly.
Here are some tips for engaging either a local or online community (or both!):
- Get Contextual. Have you ever seen a hashtag that doesn’t really work to group anything, but it works on the level of providing context to a tweet? For instance, when Facebook announced that they would be allowing clickable hashtags, I saw plenty of tweets with #TwitterAlreadyDidIt. Not so good for searches, but added a bit of humor and context to the tweet itself. This can be a great way to stand out and increase your chances of catching your follower’s eye. I have retweeted plenty of things based on the merit of an amusing hashtag alone, and I am not the only one.
- Look At What’s Trending. When you sign into your Twitter account there is a section on the left hand side that shows what is trending at that very moment. While you will want to use hashtags that are relevant, or at least make them relevant, you can often adapt them for your own use. Right now #TalkAboutYourCrush is trending. I saw a vegetarian recipe Twitter profile use it to talk about a new meal they were “crushing” on. It isn’t difficult to work it in, and it will put you right into the top searches.
- Go With Pop References. During the peak of its popularity, I lost track of the number of Gangnam Style tweets on Twitter. But that is a good thing, because it was popular and it directly engaged with an audience. So when businesses and official accounts jumped on board, it actually brought them some visibility and retweets. Pop culture references are a great way to go, but you have to do it the right way. It isn’t enough just to bring up the reference. You have to cleverly present it with a sense of relevance. Then hashtag the reference itself, such as #GangnamStyle
- Link Off-Site. You don’t just have to rely on those 140 characters to get your point across. Attach a link that goes to your blog or website. You can expand on concepts there, better engage your community, create loyal followers and boost your traffic. If you have a WordPress blog there are plugins that will automatically update Twitter when you have published a new post. This saves a lot of time, though I have always preferred to customize the tweets that contain the link. When doing this, make sure to post the same customized hashtag every time to group all of your links when searched.
- Ask For Feedback. Sometimes the best way to engage is by starting a dialogue. Ask your followers what they think, then attach it to a hashtag for them to use to respond. This can be posted on both your social media profile, and your website itself. One clever tip I have seen is to use one hashtag every time a user communicates with you. That keeps it consistent, and encourages them to regularly provide that feedback.
- Provide An Incentive. A lot of brands have been holding contests and drawings using hashtags as an entry form of sorts. Tell them to offer a story, funny tweet, experience or anything else with a certain hashtag, which enters them to win some kind of prize. Maybe this is just a retweet, a new product for free, or even a major price like cash. People are always eager to use a hashtag with an incentive involved.
Tools For Tracking and Engaging with Hashtags
One of the best things you can do for your Twitter marketing is tracking hashtags. From finding out what is trending, to seeing where your own hashtags and mentions stand, to keeping up on your demographic. It is all about exploiting the site’s unique search algorithm and way of connecting data between users.
Because Twitter is so popular, and hashtags are such a powerful means of analyzing data, tracking tools are everywhere. They aren’t all created equal, however. So here are the tracking tools I have personally found to be among the best.
Twitter chat (or Tweet chat) is the most engaging use of hashtags: It’s when you connect your community and discuss something topical with them for an hour or so.
Put in the hashtag, search for it to start tracking. It is that simple, and completely free. They also have other services to check out, like registering a hashtag, branding a hashtag, an archive, and more.
My favorite part is that you can actually FOLLOW fellow chat participants and then see how many people TwChat connected daily!
THESE are actual engagements of your community around your hashtag:
Search for a hashtag, create a ‘tagboard’ and add descriptions or customize it for easier reading. This tool works for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and several other platforms. You can also get versions for both Safari and Chrome, so you can search for hashtags directly in your browser.
You start by searching for a hashtag, keyword or URL. This one takes longer than most, because it is dedicated to the deeper results on the site. The resulting data will be a much more thorough compilation, which will include tweetchats. It will give you a graph showing the number of tweets, how many users are making it, its reach and its impressions, then a timeline for all data. There is also a live hashtag feed with retweets, klout and the most recent mentions. Below that are the top sites where the hashtag is used, the share of voice, top influencers using it, location, demographics and a whole lot more.
Another thorough breakdown of all data related to hashtags, anyone using these for business related purposes, such as startups, should consider this one. It has full brand analysis, hashtag tracking and influence gauging, Twitter chat transcripts, trend, news and meme tracking, full color graphs and timelines and a ton more. They have plans from $29 – $399 per month, with a 30 day free trial.
The simplest tool you can find is hashtags.org. It is a large database of tags, along with analytics, how-to tutorials, a chat feature and more. A basic search will just give you a quick look at a hashtag’s influence. You can upgrade for fuller analytics using a pro account, $49 for personal, $99 for business and $189 for agency.
Have a tool for tracking hashtags? Let us know in the comments.