Twitter itself is a marketing tool, but within Twitter, there are even more opportunities to connect with your audience and get your content noticed. Creating high-quality content and encouraging shares from your audience is just a portion of your strategy. And if you’re only using branded or generic hashtags (or no hashtags at all) in your Twitter posts, it’s time to take advantage of trending hashtags. Here’s how to utilize top hashtags without making your content look like spam.
A Quick Overview of Twitter Hashtags
Hashtags on Twitter (and elsewhere) are searchable words or phrases. Using them in your social media posts can connect you with people who wouldn’t otherwise see your content.
Since Twitter posts have limited characters, you don’t want to overwhelm a tweet with hashtags. Savvy brands use just one or two per post. With so little wiggle room, though, you have to know which hashtags to use every time you tweet.
What is a Trending Hashtag?
A trending hashtag is one that’s viral right now. It may be viral because it has to do with a pop culture or news event, or it may have picked up steam after first being tweeted by an influencer. Or, maybe it’s trending just because – that’s the mystery of some viral content.
If there’s a trending hashtag that your audience is using and that aligns with your content, you should capitalize on it. And use it soon, because it may not be trending by tomorrow.
How to Find Trending Hashtags
You can’t just think up a trending hashtag – the point is that they’re already popular. There are a few different ways to find them, both on Twitter and by using a third-party service.
How to Find Trending Hashtags on Twitter
While it’s not as thorough as you can get, the easiest way to find trending hashtags is on Twitter itself. This shouldn’t make up your entire hashtag-sourcing strategy, but it’s a quick way to join a conversation when you don’t have a lot of time.
After logging in on your desktop, you’ll see a list of trending hashtags and topics on the right, under Trends for You. (If you don’t have personalization enabled, it may say something like United States Trends.) These trends are similar to what you’ll find if you go to Explore on the left and then choose For You.
There’s also a way to see a larger list of Twitter trending hashtags. Log in, go to the Explore tab on the left, then click Trending on the top.
The process is similar on a smartphone. Log in to the Twitter app, click the magnifying glass Explore icon on the bottom, then click Trending at the top.
Know this: Trending lists are unique to users. They’re based on connections, interests and location. My default trend list has two WWE-related hashtags in the top five, which is understandable since my boyfriend works for the company, and I probably connect with related topics a lot.
Change Your Customized Twitter Trending Hashtags
You can change your settings to see different hashtags in the trending section. On your desktop, click the gear icon at the top of the Trends for You section. Uncheck the Show Content in This Location box, then choose Explore Locations to set a different one. You can also uncheck the Trends for You option under Personalization.
The process is similar on an iPhone. Go to the magnifying glass Explore icon, choose the settings gear icon on the top right and then make your changes.
After I updated the settings, my Trends for You section changed to San Diego Trends, and the hashtags updated. The hashtags under the Trending page on the Explore tab updated, too.
Since you can’t rely on your own Twitter trending list to find all of the top hashtags that will be relevant to your audience, you’ll have to put in more work.
How to Find Trending Twitter Hashtags Using Third-Party Tools
There are a lot of tools for finding Twitter trending hashtags. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Hashtagify.me: Search for hashtags related to your brand or content. You can also enter your tweet and get hashtag suggestions.
- Hashtags.org: This site has longer-lasting popular hashtags for when you want to extend your tweet’s shelf life.
- Trendsmap: Use location data to find top Twitter trending hashtags based on geographic area.
You can also get in on a social media “holiday” – there are a lot of calendars out there that will tell you how to celebrate pretty much every day of the year. Here’s a list from We Make Stuff Happen, and here’s a downloadable calendar from Later.
Common and Recurring Hashtags
There are some well-known and recurring hashtags that rise in popularity on a cycle, like #MotivationMonday and #TBT. If any of these hashtags make sense for your brand and content, join in.
Hootsuite has an excellent article with 40 daily hashtags and their descriptions. One word of warning: don’t use these hashtags just to make a sale. Your audience will see through it and start ignoring your content. Instead, hashtags should be used mainly to engage with the Twitter community.
Smart Ways to Use Twitter Hashtags for Marketing
Every time you choose a trending Twitter hashtag, you have to make sure it relates to your brand. That may mean:
- Using your brand voice
- Associating your brand with the topic
- Showing your brand values
Furthermore, the hashtags you use have to relate to your audience. Marvel Studios did this well in their #NationalPetDay post. They use the term Flerken, which is a MCU race of aliens that look like cats. They also link their distinct brand with the hashtag topic and appeal to their audience (especially since most audiences love a cute pet).
Follow Best Practices
Brands that know what they’re doing on Twitter all seem to follow the same “rules”:
- Post a variety of content – photos, GIFs and videos, infographics, links to blog posts, text-only tweets, etc.
- Create content that educates or entertains instead of sells
- Add a hashtag to every Tweet
- Don’t use more than two hashtags per tweet, and if you’re going with a viral hashtag, just one will do
- Retweet others, especially if those tweets have a trending hashtag – this will relate your brand more closely to the topic
Content and hashtags go hand-in-hand. Think about it – if you tweeted just a viral hashtag, nobody would engage with it or even know what to make of it. Your content is what will encourage people to interact with you or follow a link to your content.
Get Involved in a Twitter Chat
A Twitter chat is a live question-and-answer session that’s built around a dedicated hashtag. The chat may take place at a specific time or it may happen on-the-fly. Think of it as a virtual professional networking event.
There are Twitter chats about practically any topic, so you should be able to find some that link well with your brand. For example, graphic designers or marketers may want to join the #AdweekChat, while writers will fit in well with #ContentWritingChat. You can also submit your own Twitter chat topic for consideration.
There are a few ways to find Twitter chats to join. First, you can search for “Twitter chat” on Twitter itself. You’ll get a random list of results that looks something like this:
You can also check out the huge list at TweetReports. Note that some of these chats may be outdated.
Lastly, you can find out about Twitter chats organically. Connect with influencers in your industry, pay attention to what they post and keep a running list of Twitter chats as you find out about them. If you have to be present at a specific time, put it down on your calendar so you don’t miss it.
Seek Out Niche Hashtags
Even in the world of top Twitter trending hashtags, some are more popular than others. It’s tempting to use the ones that you know will have the most eyes on them. For example, #StimulusPayment may have a broader appeal than #NationalAnimeDay. However, what’s important to you is which hashtag will appeal more to your audience and feel most natural with your brand. It’s better to attract a smaller, more engaged audience than reach a huge audience that only kind of cares about what you post.
Create Interactive Content
Once people come across your tweet, thanks to a trending hashtag, keep them there with interactive content. You can create a Twitter poll, put two photos side-by-side and ask users to comment on which one they like better or link to a quiz you have on your website. Or, you can simply ask them to weigh in on the topic. As a reminder, make sure that your Tweet (1) relates to the hashtag, (2) appeals to your audience and (3) is on-brand. This tweet from Edible Arrangements has a branded hashtag instead of a trending hashtag, but it’s still a good example of interactive content.
Recycle Older Content
If your brand has created a lot of content, you can recycle a still-relevant piece when it coordinates with a trending hashtag. Instead of just tweeting the article title and a link, though, add a compelling sentence or two from the piece to hook the reader. If you don’t have enough characters for it all, design a visual quote and attach it as a photo, then add another teaser, a CTA, a link and the trending hashtag as text.
Twitter – and every social media site, really – is like its own search engine, with hashtags acting as keywords that will get your content ranked. You wouldn’t add a web page or blog post to your website without SEO-optimizing it, and you shouldn’t tweet without maximizing its reach. Carefully choose the Twitter trending hashtags that are best for your brand, and then only include one or two of them in your tweet. You’ll get more eyes on your content without resorting to spammy tactics.
Want more help managing your brand on Twitter? You’ll want to read this article about how to use Tweetdeck.
Featured Image via Spirit Boom Cat / shutterstock.com
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