Hashtags are probably the single-most underused and undervalued aspect of Twitter. For those who have a few characters to spare in their tweet, adding an applicable hashtag may make a major difference to the amount of users who read your tweet and may increase your follower count.
For those reading who don’t know what hashtags are, they are a pound sign (#), following by a keyword that relates to the tweet. They are usually placed at the end of a tweet, but can also be integrated into the tweet itself.
- Example 1: “New Blog Post About the Value of Internet Marketing at http://URL.com #marketing #internet
- Example 2: “New Blog Post About the Value of #internet #marketing at http://URL.com
Hashtags are useful because the # sign makes them clickable, taking users to the search results for that keyword. Additionally, when users manually go to Twitter’s search page and type in a keyword (marketing), they will receive tweets that not only include the word marketing, but also any tweets that have #marketing as a hashtag.
Another important thing to note is the fact that a tweet doesn’t have to have the hashtag keyword in it to use that hashtag. (Example 3: “Learn how to increase your ROI at http://URL.com #marketing”) While this may be beneficial to include hashtags that offer a more generalized topic to categorize your tweet, it can also be abused by spammers who use the trending topics on Twitter (keywords and hashtags that many people have been tweeting about; celebrities and movie titles are hugely popular) to promote their spam messages. (Example 4: “Make money blogging TODAY! http://spam.com #Transformers2”) Make sure your hashtag relates to your post, or it may be caught by Twitter administrators as spam.
In a nutshell, hashtags increase followers because they make it easy for users to find your tweets when they search for an applicable keyword. This will lead them to either click on the URL you’ve provided (therefore increasing your website traffic) or to visit your personal Twitter page and begin to ‘follow’ your tweets. This is an easy thing to do that doesn’t take any extra time and may help you gain visibility on Twitter.
P.S. From a totally unscientific and unanalytical standpoint, every time the my twitter account uses applicable hashtags, I receive about 30% more traffic to the tweeted blog post and usually gain about 2-5 new followers.