Anybody who is remotely familiar to Twitter, even as a non-user, probably has at least a general idea that a Twitter hashtag is a “#” sign with a word or phrase attached to it.
Twitter hashtags are used to discuss topics by grouping them together and making it easier to find and follow tweets from people who are talking about the same thing. But all too often, tweets with hashtags in them go unnoticed, and with just a 140-character limit, you probably really want to make your message count.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your tweet exposure using Twitter hashtags to attract more followers, more retweets and more @mentions.
Check the Trending Topics Directly on Twitter
This the easiest method to get your tweets in front of the eyes of potentially thousands of people. Twitter lists ten of the top most popular worldwide trends in the sidebar, or depending on how you have yours set up, it might be showing you tailored trends or regional trends around your location.
Incorporating phrases or hashtags from these lists gives you the best of your tweets being seen by lots of people immediately. Those phrases or hashtags are trending for a reason, and the fact that they’re trending means that lots of people are talking about it and probably following the real-time stream of tweets come in.
Twitter’s most trending topics are usually about news topics or celebrities.
Take Advantage of Hashtags.org
If you want to dig even deeper into Twitter hashtag popularity and go beyond what Twitter displays directly on the web, you can look at Hashtags.org, which is a tool that allows people to search for hashtags and how popular they are.
Right on the site’s front page, you can see a list of some of the most popular hashtags being used. For example, in the business categroy, #jobs and #marketing are a couple of popular terms. In the tech category, #iphone and #app are popular as well.
Hashtag.org will graphically display when certain terms are the most popular, showing you the times of the day and days of the week. You can also see a list of related hashtags to see how you can gain even more exposure with your tweets.
Don’t Overdo It
Some Twitter users sometimes like to cram in as many hashtags as they can in just one tweet. With just 140 characters and a tweet that has five or six hashtags--sometimes with a hyperlink stuck in there as well, it can look pretty messy. It also gives the impression that you may be trying to spam everybody.
Nobody wants that, so sticking to just one or two hashtags per tweet is the safer way to go. You can always make a similar tweet after or later on and experiment with other related hashtags.
Be Interesting and Descriptive
Again, you probably already know that you have limited room to work with on Twitter with the character limit, but tweets that get straight to the point and make use of humor or strong opinions often do very well.
Try not to use too many abbreviations in your tweet for the sake of trying to save room. Too many short form words can make it almost unreadable. Proper spelling and grammar shouldn’t be overlooked on Twitter, even though it’s quite tempting.
If you’re tweeting links, you may want to use a URL shortener that tracks how many people click on your links, like Bit.ly. Activity on Twitter also goes through a series of peaks during the day, so your tweets are more likely to be seen around 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 or 5 p.m., and around 8 or 9 p.m.
Social media can be pretty unpredictable, so you may experience a lot of reactions from a tweet with a hashtag and then nothing with another one right after it. But if you keep experimenting with your hashtags and tweeting style and timing, you’re bound to get a good feel with what works.