Do Hashtags Make a Difference? The Results of My Hashtag Experiment!

In an earlier post, I shared my thoughts about using hashtags on Twitter. Rather than completely dismiss their relevance Hashtag imageand effectiveness based on my own personal preferences and preconceived notions, I embarked on a little experiment to find out if they appear to make any difference at all in attracting Twitter followers.

The experiment

For 4 weeks, I proactively used hashtags in all of my tweets (Before the experiment, I only included them when retweeting people who used them in their original tweets).

The baseline

For the two months prior to starting the experiment, my net new twitter followers rang in at 52 and 51 (5.80% and 6.28% of my total followers at the time) in those two 4-week periods.

The results

After my 4 weeks of proactively using hashtags, I gained 61 net new Twitter followers (6.38% of my total followers).

The conclusion

Although I admit that my experiment was hardly scientific and possibly could have benefitted from some additional time, I have to conclude that hashtags don’t significantly impact the growth of your Twitter network.

I should note, however, that although the overall number of new followers may not be affected, it’s possible that engagement is. Twitter users who search for conversations based on hashtags might prove to be more relevant followers who will interact more readily and frequently with your tweets. But I’ll let you run and report on that particular experiment!

For now, I’m back to using hashtags only in retweets when they appear in the tweet before me – and sometimes not even then. With Twitter’s 140-character constraints, every space is prime real estate, you know!

What’s your take on hashtags? Have you found increased following or engagement when using them?

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Dawn
Full-time independent content writer and copywriter based in Lancaster County, PA. I am not Amish nor do I drive a horse and buggy, but they pass by my house every day. I'm a fitness enthusiast, lover of live theater, and I believe everyone should adopt a pet from a rescue (unless you're allergic). I specialize in blog content, website copy, newsletter articles, industry editorials, press releases, and social media profile content. Please note that when reading my blog, you interpret and use the content at your own discretion and risk. Tips and guidance that have worked for me, may not produce the same outcome in your situation.

Comments

  1. I agree with your assessment that hashtags don’t necessarily increase the number of followers, but I think that they probably bring in more relevant or engaged followers. Also, Twitter users who search by hashtag tend to be more Twitter-savvy, so they will be more likely to engage.

  2. dynamicnet says:

    Good day, Dawn:

    One of your many positive qualities is that you encourage your reads, including myself, to re-think. I.e. do we need to change how we think about a given subject? Maybe our own conclusions need to be adapted or re-adjusted.

    Based on your initial article, I’ve adjusted how I use hashtags.

    If the word for which I would use a hashtag as part of the tweet, is already in the tweet, then keep it simple and don’t add it as a hashtag.

    There are two reasons I still use hashtags:

    1. For twitter chat — i.e. from 8 PM to 9 PM every Wednesday is a small business twitter chat; see http://tweetchat.com/room/SmallBizChat

    2. As a means to catalog / organize.

    Thank you.

    • Thanks for your kind comments, Peter! I can definitely see how your uses of hashtags are beneficial. I appreciate your feedback and thoughts. Have a wonderful evening!

  3. Interesting results, and I’m glad you did the leg work! 🙂 I used to hashtag all the time, but just let the habit go as I wasn’t seeing much benefit.

    • Glad to help, Carrie! 😉 Of course, I’ll “never say never” to the possibility that one day I’ll use them more actively. But, like you, I just didn’t see enough of a benefit. If I participated in Twitter chats, as Peter mentioned, then they’d be a larger part of my Twitter routine. Enjoy your evening!

  4. Steve Goble says:

    I use hash tags to promote #leadership, another topic or group, or when I’m involved in a twitter chat. It helps to identify and engage others who are like minded or allows me to follow the conversation in a chat.

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