A few weeks ago, a client asked me what the best practice is when it comes to using hashtags. After looking into how we’ve used hashtags at The Orchard and digging up some good examples I’ve witnessed, here are the key takeaways I’d like to share…
The definition according to Twitter:
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keyword or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorise messages.
For example, “Headline acts announced for #Glastonbury2014.”
No spaces should be used when writing/creating a hashtag. It doesn’t matter if your hashtag contains multiple words, you can still group them together. If you want to differentiate between words, use capitals instead, e.g. #RapGod. Uppercase letters will not alter the search results, so if you search for #RapGod you’ll get the same results as #rapgod.
Don’t overuse hashtags, use a maximum of two or three in your posts. Use too many and your followers may think you are spamming.
Try to keep the hashtag short, for example, you can shorten #TheMarshallMathersLP2 to #MMLP2.
You can define your hashtags by using directories like tagdef.com. In addition to giving your hashtag a definition and listing, tagdef also allows you to search for the meaning of existing tags like #oomf.
Numbers are supported e.g. #Glastonbury2014. However punctuation marks are not.
Hashtags can occur at the beginning, middle or end of your post.
Some of the social media platforms that support hashtags include:
Twitter: Twitter is where the concept of the modern hashtag began. Twitter hashtags are mainly used to denote specific topics of conversation, the “Trends” sidebar of your Twitter feed curates a list of hashtags you might be interested in, based on your tweets. Clicking on a hashtag word in any message will show you all other tweets marked by that keyword.
Facebook: Facebook added hashtag support in June 2013. Hashtags on Facebook aren’t used as much as they are on Twitter. Nevertheless like Twitter, using hashtags on Facebook turns topics and phrases into clickable links in your post. When you click a hashtag, you’ll see a feed of posts that include that hashtag.
Instagram: Hashtags can be used to accompany photos shared on Instagram and help you discover new accounts and gain followers.
Vine: Hashtags on Vine are used to complement your videos to maximise sharability.
Google+: If you click on a hashtag in Google+, the search results will include the original hashtags as well as posts with similar tags and keywords.
Tumblr: Tumblr has a specific “Tag” section where you can add tags. These tags work in the same way as Twitter hashtags, organising post by topics, but the hash symbol is inserted automatically.
Pinterest: Pinterest hashtags can be used to mark and search for content.
Don’t underestimate the power of the hashtag, they can be a useful tool for marketing, communication and driving engagement. Hashtags are a brilliant way to break away from all the clutter on social platforms and focus on communicating with a valuable audience. Here are a few points on how you can promote a release using hashtags:
Use a hashtag on multiple social platforms to post pictures, videos and other media assets to build anticipation around a release. This will help engage followers/fans who will also help to build anticipation by adopting a specific hashtag.
Using a hashtag to promote a release is a great way to gauge fan excitement surrounding a release. With a hashtag tracking tool, you can analyse the amount of engagement around your release.
Example Tweet to build anticipation…: “Pre-order #Origins on @iTunesMusic now and instantly download “Spiral Code” http:/georiot.co/1rAx”
Use Twitter’s Music app, #Music
In April 2013, Twitter created a new service built around the hashtag #music. From Twitter.com: “It uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement, to detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists. It also brings artists’ music-related Twitter activity front and centre: go to their profiles to see which music artists they follow and listen to songs by those artists. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app.”
The app was created to showcase upcoming and popular artists’ music, also providing an easy way to share music directly to your followers.
Live Q&A with Fans
Using Twitter, you can connect and engage with fans through a hashtag Q&A session.
For example, we ran a Q&A with Bret Michaels back in June using the hashtag @AskBret to drive engagement and generate a buzz.
Example tweet: “Don’t forget to tune in & tweet your questions to @BretMichaels using the hashtag #AskBret today!”
Twitter offers a few tips on how to host these session best.
Fans and artist can use #NewMusic on Facebook to find, share and promote new music. Using this hashtag is a useful way to gain new fans.
Ad Targeting on Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter both have ad targeting capabilities, so you can pay to have messages about your music placed directly in from front of a key audience that is already using hashtags relevant to your targeted market.
By creating a hashtag you can give your fans a community. Instead of just posting about yourself, your music or a new release, try to turn your attention to the fans. Try to @-reply fans by name, favourite their tweets and follow some fans back, this will bring you closer to your fans.
Weather you love him or hate him, the big bad Bieber is a Twitter genius when it comes to paying attention to his fans. He uses the hashtag #Beliebers to bring his fan together, fans can then contribute to the #Beliebers conversation and interact with each other.
- Be specific: If you’re creating a hashtag to get people talking, make sure the hashtag is specific. So if you are promoting your album for example, use #YoungLegs instead of #AnthonyGreen. Try to avoid generic or vague hashtags.
- Simplicity: Two or three hastags should be the maximum on Twitter and Facebook, but you can get away with more on Instagram and Vine. Please do not ever hashtag the same word twice, for example, “James Blake’s album #Overgrown is amazing. Everybody go buy #Overgrown.”
- Give your post context.
The ability to promote your music with hashtags is endless, but always remember that engaging with fans and starting conversations win over constant self-promotion.