A #hashtag: Important specific keywords paired alongside the # sign, which can categorize tweets and posts and bring them together in one thread.
A trending hashtag: Hashtags that are getting the most buzz, either because of current events, news, politics or anything else that’s capturing people’s interest at any given time.
How to get a hashtag to trend: That’s a bigger conversation.
Of course, every marketer would love to get a hashtag to trend—it means more eyes on their content (and brand), expanded reach and influence, a larger audience, new users, more publicity, and the list goes on. It’s the equivalent of getting a video to go viral.
But it’s not always an easy feat.
There are many reasons why certain hashtags trend—some because of celebrity support, others because of something in the news and still others because they’re interesting and different enough that people sit up and take notice. Regardless of the reasons, this much is true: There are some basic guidelines to follow if you want to create a hashtag that has a chance of trending.
Here are six of them:
Choose the right topic. Don’t be too specific; you run the risk of alienating too many people if your hashtag is too narrowly defined. But don’t be too general, either; your hashtag won’t be memorable or mean anything. When you do decide on the topic, use words that are easy to remember and understand—words that are self-explanatory. They should immediately let users know what the conversation is about. #ReasonsToLoveMonday, for example—that’s universal and somewhat compelling given Monday’s reputation.
Start tweeting and posting. As soon as you’ve created your hashtag, get it out there. Use it in your tweets, your Facebook posts, on Instagram, even promote it in your direct mail, in your emails, in press releases and on your website. Of course it won’t be useful offline, practically speaking, but it will get eyes on it, which will help it gain momentum.
Grow your followers. It might not be enough to rely on your current social networks, depending on how large they are. That’s okay; view this as an opportunity to grow your following. Instead of simply focusing on getting your hashtag to trend, also work hard to gain new followers and friends. The larger your audience, the bigger your (and their) reach.
Ask followers to retweet, share and post. Don’t be shy; once you’ve created The Most Interesting Hashtag, you’ll want your followers and social networks to help you get it out there. Post a few times each day with your new hashtag and ask others to share and retweet or, at the very least, use your hashtag in their own posts and tweets. You can also invite others to use your hashtag by sending direct messages and email. If you want to become a trending topic, you’ll need the network power to do so. And if you have any significant social media influencers with ties to your organization, they warrant a personalized invitation to use your hashtag. Harness the power of their networks, if possible.
Provide consistent updates. Your nonprofit organization’s hashtag won’t do diddley-squat if you use it once or twice, then just hope it magically catches on with people. It will have a better chance of trending if you use it consistently and everywhere, frequently providing new updates, posts and relevant information that cannot be found elsewhere on Twitter. You might get sick of seeing it, but trust me: People are barely noticing it even when you think you’ve overused it. Repetition and consistency are key to get anything trending.
Be interesting and personable. Sorry to say, no matter how clever, creative or compelling your hashtag is, if your content is boring, your hashtag won’t trend. Post and tweet relevant and interesting thoughts and content. Be funny, if appropriate. Be original and conversational. In short, be human and engage with your followers in an authentic and personable way. People are more likely to respond to sincerity, humor and authenticity than an obvious marketing message. As always, remember that social media is a place for engagement and relationships, not overt pitching and soliciting.
Just remember: As important as your social media messages are, your main hub of engagement is always your website. From board members to volunteers, constituents to nonprofit peers, your audience will ultimately look to your website for the most up-to-date information about your nonprofit. And your social media channels should always drive traffic back to your website.
Our marketing experts can help you create a website that will prove even more valuable than a trending hashtag. Give us a try for free at firespring.org/trial or call 877.447.8941 to learn more.