Social Media Used of Good: Twitter Hashtags

Propellus sent our storyteller, Kim Wright, to Stanford University for the Social Media on Purpose conference.  The conference was made for non-profit organizations to help them learn ways to better engage their community through social media. She came back brimming with insights to share with our members.

Stanford University is in Palo Alto, California – the heart of Silicon Valley where Google is headquartered and is just a short trip to Twitter and Facebook’s headquarters. 

The speakers came from organizations like Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, social media royalty Beth Kanter, and Facebook, to name a few.


Twitter has the ability to become a non-profit organizations best friend. Twitter caters to a younger demographic than Facebook. According to the Pew Research Centre, respected research agency, when an organization thoughtfully uses the Twitter platform, they are reaching the 18-29 year old age bracket; who tend to be more politically liberal.

At the Social Media on Purpose conference, Caroline Barlerin, head of Twitter for Good gave some great insight into how non-profits could get a good ROI from their Twitter time. Last week, we explored how to establish your brand presence and engage key partnerships through Twitter.

Up now, is hashtags! A hasthtag is the # symbol before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in a tweet. A Hashtag makes your tweet easily searchable and able to reach a broader audience.

You can use the search bar and search any hashtag to see what other people are saying about that keyword. Clicking on a hashtag in any message shows you all other Tweets marked in the same way.

Still Not entirely sure what a hashtag is? Click here.

Hashtags are a great way to “tap into an audience you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise,” Barlerin says.  By using common hashtags like #nonprofit you can connect with other people in the non-profit sector all over the world and learn from people doing similar things to you. Or you can make your hashtag program specific. If you work in with an animal rescue group, #rescuedogs could be the hashtag for you.

Trending Hashtags
When a hashtag is used a lot and becomes one of the most popular hashtags , it is called “trending.”

“Pay attention to trending hashtags,” says Barlerin. If a hashtag is trending and is aligned with your mission, you can use it in your tweets to extend the reach of your message. “You can get a lively dialogue going by using an already trending hashtag,” says Barlerin.

You can’t follow hashtags, only accounts. But by searching the hashtag, you can keep an eye on it to start conversations with new people.

Want to know a little bit more about trending? Click Here

Engaging Content
One of the goals of Twitter is to have your tweet, re-tweeted. Re-tweeting is when someone shares your tweet with all of their followers. Once again, reaching an audience you may not have been able to tap before.

Using the proper hashtag on a tweet can make more people re-tweet, you need to have engaging content to get that traction. Barlerin did have 3 tips for creating engaging content.

  • Ask – Ask followers to spread your message by re-tweeting.
  • Reply – Get followers involved in a conversation by replying with comments or questions to their tweet.
  • Vote/Poll – Ask a question for your followers to respond to. This can be cheap and fast way to get a community pulse.

Amplify Events 
Creating a branded hashtag can really amp up the excitement for a new special event, fundraiser, or program kick-off. Barlerin suggests creating a phased social media strategy for these events:

  • Pre-event – Choose a hashtag early-on and use it, share teaser content and information about speakers, activities and guests. Engage the community in event-related dialogue
  • Day of event – Drive engagement, conversation and retweets by live-tweeting highly engaging content using your branded hashtag. Encourage people to tweet using your branded hashtag during the event. Have a staff member or volunteer assigned only to social media. Events like this tend to have opportunities for great photos, tweet them!
  • Post-event – Keep the event momentum going by sharing highlights, achievements and attendee feedback. Check the branded hashtag so you can read what your followers had to say after the event and engage them in a dialogue.

Twitter Tips 
Barlerin also had a few parting tips about Twitter before her time speaking at the conference was done:
•    Never start a tweet with another users Twitter handle.
•    Limit your use of hashtags to two per tweet.
•    Like Facebook, using rich media like videos and photos will dramatically increase engagement.
•    If multiple people in your organization want to use Social Media, make a shared document where all staff can go to input content.

Unlike Facebook and their insights, Twitter doesn’t have a free, easy to understand analytics program. To really measure your ROI, you need to look at things like follower growth, the amount of re-tweets and mentions you get. Barlerin did allude to the fact that Twitter would be improving their analytics one day, but until Twitter has worthwhile analytics we may have to use pay sites like Hootsuite and Twittercounter.

Happy Tweeting!

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