When you run a blog or social media platforms, you need an endless stream of content to keep up with the flow of information. One great source of topics, hashtags and keywords is Twitter “Trends” — the most relevant, up-to-the-minute topics and hashtags being used on Twitter at any given moment.
Earlier this month, Twitter unveiled its #YearOnTwitter and took a look back at the most popular trends on Twitter in 2015 — the topics that made the most conversations. Some of these hashtags reached millions of tweets per day at their peak.
Hashtags were originally created to help users organize the massive amounts of content flowing through Twitter, but they’ve become a way to create a conversation — whether it’s about a person, a current event or a brand. Hashtags are a powerful tool for linking people’s thoughts on a topic together.
So you’re ready to jump on the hashtag conversation bandwagon, but where to start? Below are a few pointers on how to most effectively use hashtags in your social conversations (and a few tips on what NOT to do):
Do: Target your specific market
Trending topics appear on the left column of your Twitter homepage. These trends can be set to your specific city or throughout the whole United States, depending on the market you are targeting. Make sure to change your trends to mirror the audience you target so your conversations are relevant to your audience.
Don’t: Post before doing your research
Many companies try to jump on Twitter trends without researching what a specific hashtag is all about. It’s important to at least click through the top posts under the trend — a little research can save you from having to do some major damage control, like the folks at DiGiorno Pizza found out after they tweeted an out-of-context, lighthearted tweet using the hashtag #whyIstayed — a hashtag to fight the victim-blaming attitude in domestic relationships.
Do: Contribute to the conversation
It’s important to use a hashtag to actively participate in conversations and to promote the topic as well as your businesss. A hashtag unrelated to what you wrote about in your tweet serves no purpose — you didn’t add to the conversation and people are now confused about what it is you are trying to market.
Don’t: Be insensitive to the trending topic
Sometimes Twitter trends pop up in support of political affairs or a world event. Whether it’s a controversial topic or a sensitive subject, it’s important to keep your brand neutral and supportive. For example, a crisis on the other side of the world is probably not the best opportunity to promote a shoe sale, as Kenneth Cole did in this notorious tweet.
Do: Remember your message
It’s fun to see your engagement rise when you post about a trend, but to keep that engagement you must make sure you are promoting your brand and sending a message on behalf of your cause in the process. Use the story that’s already been told and make it into your own story. A great example is the Northeast Ohio Sewer District’s (NEORSD) Twitter feed, which often uses trending hashtags to make funny content that’s relevant to the trend, but brings you back to their cause.
Don’t: Use #too #many #hashtags
Not only is it annoying to read, it defeats the point of using hashtags to connect your post to a certain, relevant topic. By putting too many hashtags in your tweet, your brand looks sloppy, and your tweet isn’t as effective as it could be when you hashtag one relevant topic.
Do: Have fun with it!
Blogging and social media are great platforms to show your brand’s personality and to engage people on a more personal level.