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Thought Leader Series: 5 Things to Think About Before Claiming a Twitter Hashtag

Ah, the hashtag. Once a button on your phone only used for customer service calls, the hashtag is now one of the most powerful symbols of global communication. Heck, it’s become such a regular part of our vocabulary that it’s been mocked by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

If your brand is amping up your social strategy, claiming a Twitter hashtag can be a great way to create a lasting connection with your target market. But finding the perfect hashtag is more than just brainstorming catchy phrases or putting the symbol in front of your company name. For a more intentional digital presence, you need to do a bit of research before introducing your brand’s hashtag to the world. If you don’t, you might be setting yourself up for a #headache.

Here are five things to consider before claiming a hashtag on Twitter:

  • Will it be easily affiliated with my brand?

It might be cute to create a specialized hashtag for a new campaign or for an inside joke at your company. But would it be something that your target market would connect with your brand? Lasting Twitter hashtags have a sustainable affiliation with the company they represent.Dunkin Donuts does this the right way with their #mydunkin campaign. Through a simple hashtag (which averages over 2,000 impressions a week), Dunkin encourages their consumers to share how their morning breakfast or cup of coffee is a game-changer for having a great day. It’s a simple, brand-aligned way to broaden their online presence and naturally connect with their customers.

  • Does it use a common acronym?

Oftentimes, marketers use jargon or phrasing that wouldn’t be familiar to someone outside the industry (e.g., conversion rate optimization [CRO] or return on investment [ROI]). Is your average consumer going to relate to those acronyms? Using acronyms in hashtags can be great if you’re targeting a very specific market with your social outreach (think Unbounce’s #CROday). Otherwise, it’s probably best to stick to simple phrasing.

  • Will it take up the entire tweet space?

Another important consideration when claiming a Twitter hashtag is length. Will users be able to add their own commentary to your tweet, or will your hashtag take up the entire 140 characters? Try to stick to 15 to 20 characters at most. That way, users will be able to contribute their own chapters to your brand story, without your hashtag taking up the majority of the space.

  • Can it be easily typed out on mobile?

According to Smart Insights, mobile is still a strong contender when it comes to search and discovery online. Because of this, it’s important to consider the mobile-friendliness of your brand hashtag. Does it involve a lot of characters that toggle between different keyboards? Will the user need to switch between upper- and lowercases when typing out the hashtag? With the rise in popularity of mobile usage due to cost and availability, make sure your hashtag is smartphone friendly.

  • Can it be leveraged in multiple ways?

If you’re looking for something that will be affiliated with your brand in the long term, consider something that can be used for multiple efforts. Can you use your hashtag for both a webinar and a support inquiry? What about a tweet chat and a service project? While some initiatives are specific enough to warrant their own hashtag, make sure you have the resources to sustain it in the long run. Otherwise, you might be at risk of another company staking out your Twitter territory.

Once you’ve done your research and claimed your space on Twitter, you can leverage the hashtag to discover what resonates with your audience. Using this info, you can expand into new conversations and bring your business to the next level.

What has worked for you when creating a new connection and conversation on Twitter? Leave a comment below!

Eva McKnight is the Content Team Lead at Formstack and facilitates lead-generating resources for the company, including webinars and research reports. Among Eva’s latest publications is the 2015 Form Conversion Report, which includes benchmark research on best practices for lead generation through web forms.