What are Hashtags on Twitter?

Hashtags on TwitterWhat is a hashtag on Twitter? How do you reserve a hashtag? Does a hashtag expire?

Since we’ve all see plenty of #this and #that across the Internet, here’s my take on the questions above and other info businesses need to know about Twitter hashtags from a web marketing standpoint:

What are hashtags on Twiiter?

Hashtags on Twitter can be a word, or series of words without spaces that include the # symbol  in front of it. On Twitter, once the hash symbol is appended to the front of a word, it becomes an active link. If clicked on, it shows other tweets using the same hashtag.

How is @ different from #?

The @ symbol is used to represent a Twitter profile. When you register for an account, you reserve your Twitter handle which will always include @ in front of it. For example, my Twitter handle is @JonDulac. If a user clicks “@JonDulac” in a tweet, they will go to my Twitter profile.

Should my business be using hashtags?

Encouraging your audience to include your hashtag in their tweets adds another element to your overall marketing campaigns. If you have a new product launch or upcoming event, why not include a unique hashtag in the messaging? For example, if TKG is having a huge gala, we might include the hashtag #TKGgala in all of our tweets related to the event. We would also include it in our supporting marketing efforts such as a homepage banner on the website, a blog post, in an email campaign, and in any print advertising. If we mention the hashtag often enough in the proper marketing context, our attendees will be more likely to include the same hashtag when they tweet about the event.

How does a business register a hashtag?

There is a misconception that you can register and reserve a hashtag on Twitter and it’s “yours”…but that’s not the case. You cannot reserve hashtags on Twitter. It’s not like a domain name where someone registers and purchases them. The important element to register on Twitter is a profile handle (the @ symbol). Those are like email addresses, once the good ones are gone, you’ll be stuck trying to find a handle that isn’t already taken like @Jon_Dulac124523453.

Can I monitor hashtags on Twitter?

If you want to monitor activity of a hashtag, you can register it with a 3rd party website such as www.twubs.com. Doing so makes it easier to follow and track tweets in one place, which can be helpful if a hashtag begins trending.

Which hashtags are available?

Since people and businesses cannot reserve a hashtag, they are all fair game on Twitter. The challenge is that another company or person could already be heavily promoting a hashtag for their own marketing. The best way to check if a hashtag is being promoted elsewhere is to do a search on Twitter and see if anyone is currently using it. If the search returns an abundance of recent tweets using your potential hashtag that have nothing to do with your business, you should consider a different one.

Is there a limit to the number of hashtags a business could use?

No, you can use as many hashtags as you want and in some cases, a single tweet could include several hashtags. But still, don’t go crazy and #start #putting #hashtags #in #front #of #every #word.

Does a hashtag ever expire?

If the hashtag is based around an event, they typically get used more often as the event approaches then die off soon after the event takes place. They never expire, they just become less active.

If you like this post, go tweet that you like the latest #TKgenius post from @JonDulac.

If the above statement made sense, you just passed the Twitter Hashtag 101 exam! If you still have questions, leave me a comment below.

Special thanks to Jenna and Sarah for their help on this article.

Certified in both Google AdWords and Analytics, Jon has a passion for all things web and shares that experience here on the blog. You’ll find him frequently talking e-commerce, digital strategy, pay-per-click, and more.

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