Do #Hashtags Make a Difference?

I’m not a big hashtag user. Yes, I have used them, but generally that’s when I’m retweeting someone else and they’ve Hashtag imageused hashtags in their original tweet.

I guess the writer in me looks at them as a bit of an annoyance:

They’re an interruption. There you are just reading along and “Blammo!” There’s a hashtag disrupting the flow of the content.

They’re blatant attempts to get noticed. They seem so ostentatious. “Hey, look at me! I’m tweeting about something REALLY important!”

Ben Rimalower’s recent post Hastags are Over pretty much echoes my sentiments, but unlike Ben, I do still see some Twitter veterans using hashtags in their tweets.

Why?

One reason that makes me scratch my head in wonder…

I get that hashtags are a way of identifying that a tweet focuses on a specific topic or brand. People interested in that subject can search by typing the hashtag into the “Search” field on Twitter.com or filter by that hashtag in Hootsuite or some other dashboard tool. But when you’re using a specific word or phrase in the tweet anyway, there really seems to be no reason to make it a hashtag. Anyone interested in that keyword will find you regardless of whether or not you use a # in front of it.

One reason that makes sense…

Then there’s using hashtags for Tweet Chats. That one still makes sense. If you’re holding or participating in a live Twitter group discussion, a hashtag (like #smallbizchat for example) enables people to filter out everything else and only see tweets that are a part of the conversation. And by adding that hashtag to the questions or responses that you tweet during Tweet Chats, other participants will be sure to see your tweets.

Hashtag use: Necessary or not?

So it seems hashtags are both obsolete and highly relevant at the same time. Although I currently use them sparingly, I’m curious to see if they would in any way make a difference in how quickly or how slowly my base of Twitter followers grows. I’ve been tracking my weekly followers for some time so I’ve got a good baseline metric for comparison purposes.

Starting Sunday, I’m going to make an effort to add at least one hashtag to every tweet for the next 4 weeks. At the end of my little experiment, I’ll report back on how the new approach affected the growth of my network.

#Staytuned!

What about you? Do you use hashtags and are they helping you grow your Twitter following?

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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. releader says:

    Thought provoking as always. I look forward to reading results of your experiment.

  2. Curious to see what your results are. When I first started out I used them all the time (mainly #socialmedia…’cause I’m sure that’s not a mega-huge group or anything…LOL)…now I sometimes use them in Facebook actually, just as more of a funny thing.

    • Thanks for your comment, Carrie! I’ve noticed, too, that hashtags are being used a bunch for comic relief purposes. 🙂 Now that I’m using them in every single tweet (other than replies), I’m starting to like them even less! 😉

  3. Nice Article, but I am interested in the followup. I have just started using #hastags, for the reasons you stated. Just wondering what your thoughts were after 4 weeks?

    • Hi Steve,

      Within that article I had shared the results…they were toward the end so maybe you missed them. I’ve copied and pasted them here. Fast forwarding to now…I use them occasionally, but still not extensively. I’m unofficially experimenting with them on Facebook now, too, but I haven’t made that a topic for a blog post yet. And now onto the results you asked about…

      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.

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