#HowToHashtag

Having recently interviewed for a summer internship, I tried my best to prepare. I had a list of questions I thought I may be asked, especially ones related to the work I do at PRowl Public Relations. Naturally, I was asked an abundance of basic questions about the firm and I went on to happily answer all them with ease. When discussing social media tactics I have used for my account in this past semester, however, there was one question I could not seem to conjure up an answer for. The question was more or less asking how my PRowl Public Relations account decided upon certain hashtag campaigns for the various events we had hosted throughout the year.

This question got me thinking. How exactly does a PR professional, account team, or business leader, for that matter, come up with an effective Twitter hashtag campaign? Is there a science behind it?

Twitter hashtags are a little gesture that can go a long way. Most of the time they produce positive results, but there are instances in which hashtags can go very wrong (think McDonald’s #McDStories, more like #McFail, campaign last January). By including a relevant hashtag in your tweet, it becomes visible to people searching for that specific topic, adding your voice to the general discussion. The probability of your tweets being retweeted is also higher when you use the right hashtag to share your comments or insights about a subject or in PRowl’s case, in marketing an event.

 So I went to my trusty search-engine, Google, seeking the answer. What I found were many articles that all had similar tips for creating a simple yet powerful hashtag campaign on Twitter. Here is a list of pointers to keep in mind when creating your campaign:

 1. Determine the kind of value you aim to derive for yourself and your followers from using the hashtag. Do you intend to crowd source information, create buzz or provoke conversation? Make sure your intention and purpose for employing the hashtag is clear and focused. Formulate a hashtag that is relevant to your purpose and the subject you intend to tweet about.

 2. Check to see if the hashtag you have in mind already exists and is in use. It is also very important to check if your desired hashtag has not taken on some other meaning. Twitter Search, Hashtags.org and Tagalus are some tools you can use to do a quick hashtag check.

 3. Start tweeting your hashtag. It helps to set the context of your hashtag by briefly explaining what it means.

 4. Tweet with moderation. The last thing you want is to be seen as a spammer. For PRowl, we introduced the hashtag once daily up until the actual day of the event.

 5. Set up an automatic alert tool that sends you an email alert when someone tweets your hashtag. Twilert is one such tool.

Do you think Twitter hashtags help to raise visibility for businesses? Let us know your favorite!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kaitlyn Sutton.

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