Skip to Content
cause for conversation

causemedia’s blog on social media for social good.

Twitter 101: How to Properly Use #Hashtags

The concept of hashtags can be very confusing for Twitter amateurs and professionals alike (many experienced Twitter users don’t use hashtags properly). To put it simply, hashtags are keywords that organize real-time conversations. The # symbol is used to identify these keywords. Hashtags not only make tweets easier to find in a Twitter search, but also help connect people tweeting about the same topic. For example, if you search for #socialgood on Twitter, you can find tweets from other Twitter users about social causes.
Here are some hashtag basics:
  • The # symbol has to be in the beginning of the keyword or phrase and have no spaces in order to be a hashtag (#socialgood = hashtag, social good = not a hashtag)
  • A hashtag is counted in a tweet’s  140 character limit (so leave room)
  • Hashtags can occur anywhere in a tweet
  • Any Twitter user can create or follow a hashtag (however not all hashtags become trending topics)
Also, make sure you follow these hashtag best practices:
Do your research. Before creating your own hashtag, figure out if the topic you’re tweeting about already has one established. Using an established and relevant hashtag can help create more visibility for your tweet. Websites such as Hashtags and Trendsmap allow you to search for popular hashtags on Twitter (Trendsmap allows you to search for current topics by location). Popular hashtags that are meaningful to your message is best. Here’s a great list of 45 hashtags for social change that your nonprofit can utilize.
Use hashtags in good taste. Hashtags are best when they’re related to your message. Don’t try to use a popular hashtag that has nothing to do with the topic of your tweet. For example, fashion designer Kenneth Cole was in hot water last year after he used the popular hashtag #Cairo during the uprising in Egypt to promote his spring collection. Using popular hashtags unrelated to your message can potentially upset your followers, make your organization look bad, and lessen the importance of your tweets (no one likes reading spam). Also, you aren’t reaching your target audience.
Resist the urge to abuse hashtags. Nothing is more annoying than reading a tweet with too many hashtags. Only use hashtags that add value to your tweet. If you misuse them, your followers will start to unfollow you (or just as bad, tune out your tweets). 
If used properly, hashtags can be a valuable communication tool. Hashtags can increase the visibility of your tweets – helping to raise awareness for your cause, reach your target audience, and stimulate conversation. How does your organization use hashtags? Please leave your comments below.  


Everyone Has a Story: Timeline for Pages

It’s official. After months of speculation, Facebook Timeline is now available for Pages. So what does this mean for your organization? Although it may be a pain to figure out another Facebook layout, Timeline can be a breath of fresh air for your organization's Facebook Page. Timeline's visually-engaging layout allows organizations to tell their story through compelling images and a colorful history.

Here are three things to keep in mind when setting up Timeline for your organization's Page.

The cover photo is the new landing page. With the old Facebook Page layout, organizations created landing pages to enhance the user experience. With Timeline, the cover photo is the landing page. A visually powerful cover photo makes a great first impression and can tell your organization's story.

Tell your story. Highlight important historic events and milestones for your organization. Telling your story can help create a deeper emotional connection between you and your fans. Livestrong does a great job of using Timeline to share their story. Also, take some time to review past posts and photos in your Timeline to make sure everything fits into your story (delete anything that doesn't).

Update your strategy. Timeline for Pages offers features that weren't available in the old layout. For example, with Timeline you can now highlight important posts by starring them (this makes the image twice as large as regular posts). You can also select a post to appear on the top left spot of the Timeline feed for seven days. Figure out how your organization can leverage these new features.

Not ready for the layout change? Don’t worry; you have until March 30 to prepare your Timeline. What do you think of Timeline for Pages? Have you already implemented your organizations Timeline? Please leave your comments below.