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Navigating the Hashtag Twittersphere

How to tweet in 140 charactersI recently gave a Twitter tutorial to someone brand new to Twitter.  Every time I give one of these my fear is always that they won’t stick with it long enough to love it, as I do. One of the questions that I most often get is around hashtags (how people find conversations). People often ask, “how do you know what hashtag to put on your tweet? How many hashtags can or should you include in a tweet?And does every tweet need a hashtag?” Oy vey! Let’s take a look:

Q1. “How do you know what hashtag to put on your tweet?”

A1. Hashtags can go in front of a word already in your tweet or they can be appended to the end of a tweet. The key to hashtags is that you want to use a word that people would more than likely be searching on to find your tweet about your topic.

As you see in the example below, Patrick is hoping that people who are searching for “online marketing” information will find his tweet and click on his link and hopefully retweet it. The affiliate hashtag at the end is his common courtesy of saying that this is an affiliate link he is posting. 

TIP: If you are not sure what a hashtag means, you can Tagdef.com and do a search or add your own definition.

Example:

Q2. How many hashtags can or should you include in a tweet?

A2. There’s no right number here. The point is to not make it so illegible that no one knows what in the heck you are talking about except you. For example, this person does not know how to tweet and I would imagine that’s why they only have 758 followers after 61,513 tweets (that is not a typo). People are not finding them, they are annoyed by the fact that they can’t understand their tweets. Too many hashtags makes your tweet look like noise in the twitter feed.

 Q3. Does every tweet need a hashtag?

A3. No. As I said above, hashtags are helpful in finding meaningful conversations, but not necessary every time.  Links are way more important than hashtags on Twitter. In fact, I will tell you to sacrifice the hashtag before sacrificing a link in a tweet. With 140 characters there is only so much real estate you have to play with and every letter takes up one of those characters so be persnickety.

And beware, because hashtags can go terribly wrong such as the latest McDonald’s hashtag promo gone bad reported by Business Inside.

Have any other questions? Enter in the comments, and I’ll either answer it or get a blog up about it if my answer is too long.

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.

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