What’s the point of a Twitter hashtag? What’s it there for? Am I using too many? Or am I using too few? Is there a better way to use it?
In this blog we’ll answer all of these questions, and more.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Twitter hashtag!
A Very Short History of the Hashtag.
The “hash” (#) is the “number sign”, and we’ve been using it for centuries.
Of course, you know this already. We just included this section as an excuse to share this picture:
Yep! Some people think that Twitter invented the hash symbol itself.
However, in that anonymous Facebook user’s defence, Twitter did popularise the use of the hash symbol on social media.
For a long time, the hash symbol has been used in internet communications to label groups and topics. On 23 August 2007, Uber’s Chris Messina suggested using a similar system on Twitter:
And thus the hashtag as we know it today was born. Chris proudly describes himself as the hashtag’s inventor in his Twitter bio, and #barcamp has the honour of being the first ever hashtag.
What’s the Point of a Twitter Hashtag?
Broadly speaking, there are three reasons why you might use a Twitter hashtag.
1. For emphasis.
You can’t embolden or italicise words on Twitter. So if there’s a specific word in your tweet that you want to really stand out, just use a hashtag!
The following isn’t a good tweet by anyone’s standards. But it illustrates how you might use a hashtag for emphasis:
2. For humour.
People often use hashtags to add a bit of levity to their tweets.
Say you accidentally spilled tea all over your desk. Of course you’d take to Twitter to moan about it. But nobody likes a moaner. In this case, hashtags can let your audience know that you grasp the hilarity of the situtation:
But the relationship between hashtags and humour goes deeper.
We’ll talk more about trending topics a little later. But first, suffice to say that jokes regularly trend on Twitter.
At the time of writing, #MakeAHorrorFilmLessScary is trending. By using that hashtag, users can join in on the joke. Doing this can make you feel like you’re part of something bigger. It may even demonstrate to your followers that you’re both funny and switched on to current trends.
Read some of the tweets. They’re quite funny.
3. To label a group, a topic, or a location.
This is the big one. This is what the hashtag was made for. You can use it to link your tweet to a wider group, topic, or event.
People often navigate Twitter using hashtags. They either want to follow a specific conversation, or they want to find content or accounts relating to a specific subject.
Say you wanted to find people on Twitter who really like quiche*. Clicking on the #quiche hashtag would open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Look at the tabs below. “Top” will show you the “top tweets” about quiche. These are tweets by the most influential Twitter users. “Latest” will give you a live feed of all of the latest tweets about quiche. “Accounts” will show you all of the accounts that include #quiche in the bio.
“Photos” and “Videos” are self explanatory. Here’s some photos of quiche:
Using hashtags can help you ensure that your tweets are seen by the right audience. This is why it’s worth doing a bit of research. Take some time to find out what sort of hashtags people use when talking about your products, services, or areas of expertise.
In a similar way, hashtags can help you to reach out to people in a specific location. By way of example, take a look at the sort of tweets that appear when you search for the #Nottingham hashtag.
Hashtags and Trending Topics.
You’ve no doubt seen the trending topics on Twitter. They’re usually displayed to the left of your main feed:
How does Twitter identify a trending topic? In a number of ways. We don’t know exactly how their algorithm works, but evidence suggests that hashtags play a part in determining trending topics. After all, some of the trending topics are themselves hashtags, such as the #MakeAHorrorFilmLessScary we mentioned above.
Get into the habit of monitoring these trending topics. If one of them is ever related to your products or services, lucky you! You can then use the appropriate hashtag in one of your tweets, increasing the likelihood that it will be seen by your target audience!
However, never use a hashtag without first checking that it’s appropriate. Some hashtags are related to dark or contentious subjects, the sort you might not want to associate with your brand. This can result in a PR nightmare, like that time a pizza brand jumped on a hashtag that dealt with domestic violence.
Similarly, never use a trending hashtag that has nothing to do with your tweet. This is pointless, as even if it means your tweet gets more exposure, it won’t necessarily get seen by your target audience. And in any case, Twitter views such activity as spam. Doing this may even get your account banned.
What’s the Maximum Number of Hashtags You Should Put in a Tweet?
We’re often asked just how many hashtags is too many. There’s no definitive answer to this. But as a general rule of thumb, the more hashtags you use, the harder your tweet is to read. So once your tweet becomes illegible, you know you’ve gone too far:
Tweets with too many hashtags aren’t just difficult to read. Many people find them deeply irritating. Use too many and your audience may start to view you as spammy or unscrupulous.
How To Choose Your Hashtags.
So which hashtags should you use in your tweets?
As we mentioned above, it’s worth spending some time investigating the hashtags that are used by your target audience when discussing your products or services.
But beyond this, here’s a couple of things you can try:
Your town or city! #Nottingham; #Derby; #Leicester. But you can go deeper and tag areas, and even buildings.
For example, Status Social is based in Friar Gate Studios in the Cathedral Quarter of Derby. That gives us a fully-loaded buffet of hashtags to choose from when writing our tweets: #FriarGateStudios; #CathedralQuarter; #DerbyUK.
Several times a week, Twitter users across the world are united by certain thematic hashtags.
Got anything inspirational to say? Share it on Monday using #MondayMotivation. Have you found a hilarious or fascinating photo in your archives? Share it on Thursday with #ThrowbackThursday.
Friday is a day of celebration. So if you’ve got any good news to share, or if you and your team is simply headed for some after work drinks, you might use the #FriYay hashtag.
For more information on choosing your hashtag, take a look at this handy flowchart.
Advanced Hashtag Use – Make Your Own Hashtags!
This is easier for some businesses than it is for others, but there’s nothing stopping you from simply creating your own hashtags.
Not only can this make it easier for your followers to stay informed, if enough people pick up on your bespoke hashtags, you’ll also have a quick and easy way of monitoring what others are saying about you on Twitter.
For example, bus operator Trent Barton has a dedicated hashtag for each of their services, which they use when giving service updates:
As a result, any of their customers in need of a quick service update knows that all they have to do is search for the appropriate hashtag. But at the same time, Trent Barton can monitor these hashtags to instantly find out what people are saying about their services. And if there are any complaints, they can immediately swoop in and offer the tremendous customer service for which they’re famed*.
So as well as helping your tweets to stand out, hashtags can also help you to deliver astounding customer service!
Just bear in mind – if you’re going to create your own hashtag, try to keep it short. Hashtags that use too many characters soon become unwieldy and illegible, which is one of many Twitter mistakes that Southern Rail made on a fateful October morning.
Any Questions? Get in Touch!
That’s about it for the hashtag! But remember, this has been your essential guide, not your complete guide. We couldn’t possibly cover everything in a single blog post!
So if you’ve got any more questions about the hashtag, or about any aspect of Twitter, why not add a comment below?
Alternatively, you can contact us and speak to us directly.
* DISCLAIMER 1 – Status Social director Mark Saxby doesn’t like quiche.
** DISCLAIMER 2 – We trained Trent Barton to use Twitter – which explains why they’re so good at it! We can train you too.Read More
WhatsApp was intended to be a simple communication app for friends and family. But many businesses have started to use WhatsApp for customer service.
Some Fascinating Facts About WhatsApp:
WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by Jan Koum and Brian Acton. Since its inception it has grown to over one billion users worldwide, and is actively used in more than 109 countries.
Its top two markets in the world are India and South Africa, but it’s popular in the UK too. Around 70% of WhatsApp users use it every day, and 18-34 year olds are the biggest demographic.
And get this: The average WhatsApp user sends around 1,000 messages a month!
So what makes it so popular? And why are businesses using it as a customer service tool?
No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks!
Koum and Acton wanted WhatsApp to be a platform with simplicity at its heart. There was to be no advertising, no hidden bits, and no messing around.
WhatsApp was designed to be a simple messaging service for connecting friends and family. But of all the messaging apps, WhatsApp has forgone the greatest growth since its launch. In February 2016 it finally surpassed the one billion active user mark.
The simplicity of WhatsApp is one of the main reasons for its popularity. Users are able to send text, video, audio and even PDF messages to other users around the world, for FREE! All without seeing a single advert or annoying pop-up. All you need to use the app is a smartphone and an internet connection.
WhatsApp’s privacy terms have also contributed to its success. As of April 2016, WhatsApp announced its default end-to-end encryption, meaning messages could be shared securely.
WhatsApp For Customer Service!
Thanks to this combination of simplicity and security, certain businesses have adopted WhatsApp as a means of communication with customers.
For example, London based jeweller Rare Pink uses WhatsApp to connect with customers who are too busy to come to the store. Nearly 10% of their sales are generated through WhatsApp, and these often come from overseas.
Meanwhile in Brazil, doctors are using WhatsApp to conduct patient consultations. The accessible interface enables a quick and easy conversation, while the encryption features guarantee confidentiality.
What’s Next For WhatsApp?
We have already seen numerous examples of how businesses have embraced WhatsApp as a communication tool. And it feels like businesses are just getting started.
Of course, there will likely be some subtle updates to WhatsApp in the coming months and years, but it’s unlikely that any updates will compromise the platform’s core values of simplicity and privacy. And at the same time, social media platforms on the whole are moving towards business-friendly interfaces that seem purpose built for customer service. Twitter provides an excellent example of this.
So maybe it’s time your business started to explore the potential of using WhatsApp for customer service. And if you need a hand integrating WhatsApp into your communication channels, get in touch.Read More
The Southern Rail Twitter row made national headlines. They tried to use social media to tackle a labour dispute. It didn’t go well. If you ever wanted a crash course in how NOT to use social media, this is it.
On the morning of October 3 2016, Southern Rail tweeted this:
Months of industrial action have badly impacted Southern’s services. Additional strike action is planned. Southern Rail seems to think that these strikes might be called off if the RMT were only aware of how it affected ordinary people. So they urged their Twitter followers to give the RMT a piece of their mind.
We’re not here to discuss the politics of this issue. We’re here to point out that Southern Rail’s strike-breaking master plan was a very, very bad idea.
Why? Well, just take a look at some of the reactions they got:
The word you’re looking for is “ouch”.
Now, before we talk about what Southern Rail did wrong, let’s talk about the one thing they did right: They didn’t try and silence the debate.
The original tweet, complete with its many scathing replies, is still there for all to see. Or at least, it still is at the time of writing. This is important. As past social media meltdowns have proven time and time again, any attempt to silence these things – or worse, to pretend that they never happened – has only made things worse.
But beyond that, this is a good case study in how NOT to do social media.
Here are three key lessons from the Southern Rail Twitter meltdown.
1 Don’t shirk your responsibilities.
This is actually a golden rule for customer service in general. Notice that many of the angry tweets above are lambasting Southern Rail for shifting the blame. Rather than taking responsibility for their shortcomings, Southern Rail essentially shrugged and said “it’s not our fault! It’s all because of these guys! Go complain to them instead.”
For many, this is unacceptable. It perhaps suggests that Southern Rail aren’t taking their customer service duties seriously enough.
Compare this to East Midlands Trains, who last year pledged to go 24/7 on social media. On average, they tweet disruption updates every 18 minutes, and they actively seek out opportunities to build their reputation through transforming complaints into positive stories of good engagement and excellent service.
In short, East Midlands Trains take ownership of their responsibilities. This is exactly what their customers like to see. Southern Rail did the opposite. It’s understandable that people got angry.
2 Don’t ignore the experts.
This call for people to contact RMT wasn’t exclusive to the Southern Rail Twitter account. It also appeared as a two-page spread in several newspapers:
Read through the replies to the tweet and you’ll see repeated calls that Southern Rail should sack their social media team. But that this same message appeared in a major free newspaper suggests that this debacle was commissioned from up high.
This whole thing has an air of corporate intervention about it. It’s possible that Southern Rail’s social media team had nothing to do with it.
Because when it comes to Twitter, Southern Rail seem to have some idea of what they’re doing. They’re at least in the habit of responding to complaints promptly (if not satisfactorily):
Maybe the Southern Rail Twitter team advised against this approach. Maybe this tweet only went live because the management demanded it.
If this is true, then this whole thing proves that you should NEVER disregard the advice of your social media team. They spend all day on social media. They know how things work. So listen to them! If they think that something’s a terrible idea, then do something else!
3 Don’t try and settle your union disputes on Twitter.
This is the obvious one. But perhaps it can be better phrased as “don’t rock the boat.”
If there’s one thing people love on social media, it’s a good old fashioned corporate meltdown to sink their teeth into.
Southern Rail should have treated their Twitter account as a place to broadcast service updates. They should have used Twitter as a reactive customer service platform. They should have used Twitter to try and win over their customers after months of disappointments.
Instead, they openly invited people to share their opinions on the state of their service. They did so while pointing the blame at a third party. And worst of all, they gave people a hashtag to play with!
This was never going to go well.
It’s even possible that some of the comments under the original tweet were left by people who have never used Southern Rail services.
That’s just how Twitter works. People are drawn to conflict. Never give them fuel for their fire.
Southern Rail Twitter Meltdown – 3 Key Takeaways For ALL Businesses on Social Media:
-Hire a team of social media experts and listen to their advice.
-Take responsibility for your shortcomings. Don’t pass the blame. Own it. Address it. Then fix it.
-Don’t involve your social media audience in your political disputes.
In fact, you should do all you can to avoid mixing politics and social media. Things almost always go wrong when you show your colours.
Status Social is one of the UK’s most trusted Social Media agencies. Our social media consultations can help you to avoid Twitter meltdowns. And our social media training can show you how to use Twitter to deliver excellent customer service.Read More
Many sources agree that working for Status Social is one of the best jobs in the world. But what makes it so special?
Henrietta Teasdale Brown recently completed an eight week internship with Status Social. Before heading back to university, she wrote this blog post for us, in which she shares her eight favourite things about working for Status Social.
Earlier this year, Mark Saxby came to my University for a careers talk. He told a room of around 100 students that, if they wanted a job, they should just “call him up” and “not bother with hiding behind emails”.
I was instantly inspired. So a few days later, I rang him asking for work experience.
After eight weeks at Status Social, I am truly thankful that Mark and Kerry gave me this opportunity. The office is just as quirky as the Saxbies themselves, and I have learnt so much about the business world and myself through this experience.
Here’s my eight favourite things about Status Social.
Being Made a Fool of on Social Media
Halfway through my internship, I spent a few weeks in Thailand. Before I left, they took a picture of me covered in ties, saying that I was headed to “Tie-Land”.
Although embarrassing at times, things like this made me feel a lot more relaxed around my colleagues, who were also routinely made a fool of on social media. When you work for a social media company, you have to get used to the fact that anything is potential social media content!
Got a funky pair of socks on? Or a matching outfit with another employee? You will see it on Instagram a few minutes later.
Being in Derby
Anybody who’s ever spent any time in Derby will know what this means – loads of amazing places to buy food, right on your doorstep!
Oliver’s Kitchen, I’m going to miss you most of all.
The Status Social office is swarming with social media themed clocks, cushions, plants and even coffee coasters.
The office is truly a delight to work in, and it now even displays an elephant I brought back from Thailand.
Becoming a Professional Stalker
After two months at Status Social there is no client I can’t find on social media – unless, of course, they are not signed up to it.
This is a skill I will remember forever.
A Proper Introduction to LinkedIn
I’m 19, so the more professional side of social media isn’t really my forte.
I honestly did not realise just how many people were on LinkedIn, and how fantastically useful the platform is for job hunting, building contacts, and for boosting brand awareness.
Now that I have got to grips with LinkedIn, I’ve received a huge number of messages from friends and even strangers congratulating me on taking an interest in LinkedIn at such a young age.
Teaching Me About Morals
I have often heard the business world described as “brutal” and “unscrupulous”. This was a worry I had about leaving university – I thought it would be tough out there.
But Status Social has eight defining values, including honesty and being ethical. So after working here, I have a much more positive view of the business world, and I’m extremely excited for my life after university.
The Strange Stuff That Goes on in the Office
There’s always something going on here.
The Amazing Team
I couldn’t have asked for lovelier people to work with.
As Mark says himself: ‘We only employ “two percenters” – people who love challenge, change, and living life to the full.’
If Henrietta’s account of life at Status Social has convinced you that it’s time for a career change, get in touch to discuss our latest vacancies!Read More
Hillhead is the world’s biggest working quarry exhibition. In 2016, organisers QMJ wanted to use social media to help raise awareness of the event and to drive traffic to their registration page. As QMJ’s appointed social media partners, we used Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with the target audience.
This year they saw a 7% increase on previous show’s attendance, with 18,600 unique visitors at the show. This made Hillhead 2016 one of the biggest ever in the show’s history.
To meet their social media needs, Hillhead chose Status Social, the East Midlands’ only specialist social media consultancy. Our objectives were to raise awareness amongst the target audience in the run up to Hillhead, while directing traffic to the registration page.
Strategy and Results
On Twitter, we reached out to the show’s exhibitors and engaged with their audience. This caused their follower numbers to surge.
During the show’s three day run, Hillhead’s tweets were seen more than 93,000 times, with regular visitor interaction.
We engaged directly with influencers from the quarrying community, many of whom were due to exhibit at Hillhead that year. This meant that Hillhead’s content was shared a large number of times on a daily basis. It was seen then engaged with by the target audience.
In a three month campaign, the Twitter profile and its tweets were viewed collectively over 495,000 times, with more than 1,700 link clicks through to the Hillhead website.
At the same time we managed Hillhead’s LinkedIn profiles. Every day we posted content carefully worded and formatted to suit the LinkedIn audience. In just three months we grew the group members from 43 to 231 people, many of whom were decision makers in the quarrying industry. Our most successful post received 826 views.
The Power of Twitter
Thanks to Twitter, we even managed to help out one of the visitors who didn’t have an umbrella:
As a result, exhibitors offered shelter, drinks and umbrellas to the visitor giving them a great opportunity for engagement:
Eventually, the visitor was rescued:
Status Social’s Grace Golden was recently featured in the My Week section of the Derby Telegraph.
From bakeoffs to bike rides, here’s how an average week looks at a Derby Social Media Agency.
Still feeling rather smug about cooking my first ever Sunday roast yesterday – living up to my true Cancerian ‘homemaker’ nature, I happily pack the leftovers for my lunch and leave the house bright and early on a Monday morning. I arrive just before the rest of the team. So I let some light in, open the windows, brew the delicious (if not slightly strong) cafetiere and load our office playlist on Spotify, which has developed quite an eclectic mix.
I’ve been super excited about starting my role and learning more about the industry having previously been part of the marketing team at Motorpoint in Derby. In the first four weeks at Status Social my schedule (which I’ve learnt very quickly not to say the American way without being hastily corrected) has been jam-packed full of various techniques to develop my knowledge of social media marketing.
I’m working alongside my colleague Elliot, who started Social Media Management the same week. As part of the social media management team, it’s my responsibility to gather the information from the weekend. I’m pleased to see my efforts are paying off and demonstrating some tangible results for each of my accounts.
Using analytics for each of the platforms, I pull together the results for my weekly report: leads generated, audience growth, engagement, reach, top performing post, and most importantly improvements for the coming week.
Unfortunately, my afternoon takes a turn for the worse when I received an update from my boyfriend that his family dog, Rocco, has had to be put down at the young age of 6. That evening we exchange stories and photos of him. He loved the camera. We found comfort in George’s Fish and Chip takeaway, and an Olympic highlights montage on the BBC.
Our Social Media Consultant, Chris, arrives back in the office after a star studded weekend filming an episode of Channel 4’s ‘Humans’. He tells us tales from London: He met Jack Whitehall’s girlfriend and drank gin to celebrate his birthday. I decide not to share any of the completely ordinary things that happened to me over the weekend.
I feel rather positive, and in our morning meeting excited about some of my new connections on LinkedIn. My profile views are up 46% week on week, and I’m secretly ecstatic that mine are higher than Mark’s, Status Social’s director.
The rest of the afternoon is taken up with account management. This involves conversations with HR directors about current affairs and discussing hot trends with the UK’s leading wedding planners. This leads to a phone call with TIME magazine about our premium Social Media Weddings service.
What’s a Social Media Wedding? It’s the perfect opportunity for couples planning their wedding to include social media in a way that captures and shares their wedding with friends and family, no matter where they are. It’s also a chance to relive their special day instantly with a gallery of luxury images – plus a live, interactive Twitter wall at the reception!
After work I hit the gym and experiment with cauliflower couscous; inspired by Joe Wicks. I highly recommend it.
I’m full of hope and merrily making my way through the transitional stages that we all go through when starting a new role, plus feeling exceptionally welcomed as a new member of the Status Social team.
I’ve been asked to be a guest presenter at a Midlands Business Club next month to explain how to use social media for business. So I’ve started the first draft of my presentation and pleased there is an abundance of case studies that I can use to help demonstrate how business objectives can be met through ‘The Power of Social Media!!’ – I’ll come up with a good headline later…
In the afternoon we have Pinterest and Instagram (Pinstagram) training. This is accompanied by a Bird’s caramel doughnut each to celebrate the return of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO)!
Before we leave we mop up any crumbs and ensure our training suite is spotless ready for Chris’s social media recruitment workshop with Pattonair the next day.
That evening, I double check that record is set for GBBO and go out for a dinner date with some friends at an Italian restaurant in Ashby de la Zouch.
The rain tries to ruin our courtyard drinks, but we carry on. After all, we have two engagements, a new house, and a new puppy to discuss. After a generously portioned and quickly demolished Louisiana chicken, we arrange our next catch up and head home.
Another bright and early morning. Despite my best intentions I miss a morning cardio session on my spin bike.
We come up with some ideas in our coffee and content session first thing and make ourselves laugh with some quirky video content for Status Social’s social media accounts. I take great pleasure in erasing some items on my to do list and spend time scheduling my content calendars. I also allow some time to finish our Status Social strategy for using Yammer, the internal social networking site.
After another busy day I go to the gym in an attempt to burn off some of the excessive calorie consumption for the week so far (that’s before the Bank Holiday!) I prepare dinner, brew some tea, let my Woodwick Havana Nights candle crackle away and settle for The Great British Bake Off catch up – #DoNotDisturb.
First thing Friday morning Chris and I discuss one of our major accounts, providing social media customer service support for a major car park company. We have delivered customer service workshops for them, and we are currently working together on their strategic approach.
We swiftly move on, ready for Smith of Derby’s new business development officer to arrive for his one to one LinkedIn profile building session.
As a team we have been using our LinkedIn accounts and Status Social’s to recruit a PA/Administrator. We need someone who is not just an organisational wizard but understands how important our company values are. As the closing date is approaching we are delighted we have received so many excellent applications just from using social media.
We close the afternoon with a Facebook advertising development session to ensure we are all familiar with the latest updates. We share our expertise and discuss techniques that have been performing particularly well.
After double checking social media cover for the weekend we depart for the Bank Holiday. In true wild Friday night style my boyfriend and I have agreed to a 20km bike ride to Trent Lock and back catching a bite to eat whilst we are there. As always, it’s cool and casual with a good atmosphere.
Up bright and early as I’ve agreed to meet my Dad for a bike ride and rather super food lunch of quinoa blinis with spinach puree and blood orange brownies (very fancy), followed by a quick swim and a facial!
It’s time for me to finally visit Mercia Marina after hearing such fab reviews. It transpires every last Sunday of the month is the ‘Makers Market’, full of fresh local produce, coffee, cake and nice housey bits. My mum insists I’ve already got too many, but they’re so irresistible!
That evening some friends come around for dinner and drinks. I cook a Thai Green curry with coconut rice and baked mango cheesecake – my favourite!
We have a steady evening, even though it’s Bank Holiday Monday, but I’ve got the day to myself and I’ll be making some tweaks to my social media for business presentation – ‘8 steps to making money using social media!’
This article originally appeared in the Derby Telegraph.Read More