ExplainersMedia Literacy

All you need to know about Twitter hashtag

Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets.” Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read them.

Twitter has become increasingly popular with academics as well as students, policymakers, politicians, and the general public. Many users struggle to understand what Twitter is and how they can use it, but it has now become the social media platform of choice for many.

The snappy nature of tweets means that Twitter is widely used by smartphone users who don’t want to read long content items on-screen.

Twitter allows you to:

  • easily promote your research, for example by providing links to your blog stories, journal articles and news items
  • reach a large number of people quickly through tweets and retweets
  • follow the work of other experts in your field
  • build relationships with experts and other followers
  • be up-to-date with the latest news and developments, and share it with others instantly
  • reach new audiences
  • seek feedback about your work and give feedback to others
  • follow and contribute to discussions on events, for example, conferences that you can’t attend in person
  • express who you are as a person.

Not only does a higher followership count mean more influence on twitter, but also likes and retweets show that followers are interested in your content.

According to social media statistics, nearly half of all marketers cite Twitter as their go-to network for engaging with customers. Fast-moving and so simple to use, Twitter is arguably the easiest social following to grow from scratch.

But how do you get those followers in the first place?

1. Tweet consistently: Tweet more often

than you do on Facebook and Instagram; Twitter requires a more aggressive content strategy.

According to data by CoSchedule, the sweet spot is anywhere between three and seven tweets per day to maximize engagement. So context and competitive analysis are important.

Filling up your Twitter feed with fresh content lets potential followers know that you’re active, engaging, and well, worth following.

With the help of social scheduling software, you can regularly queue up content without having to constantly tweet in real-time. This effectively allows you to attract new followers around the clock.

2. Use More visual contents: Tweets containing visual content receive more likes, shares and retweets than those without them. Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with solely text-based tweets, images are better poised to stop serial scrollers and encourage them to take a look at your post.

3. Always tag, retweet & reply

Getting more followers on Twitter doesn’t have to be a time-sink: it just means making the most of the time you spend on the platform. You can schedule tweets to optimize engagement but at the same time, you don’t want your Twitter account to look like it’s completely run by bots, so you will need to get in the trenches with your followers, customers and industry leaders alike. Regularly engaging with other users via tagging, retweeting and replying immediately lets new followers know that you’re human.

4. Optimize your profile for new followers:  In order to clear the doubt if your tweets are run by bots, you need to do everything to prove you are human. Make your profile friendlier to new followers by having:

  • A clean profile photo. According to the psychology of social photos, an unobstructed facial photo is ideal if you aren’t using a high-res brand logo.
  • Relevant tags, industry keywords and location information. In short, your profile should be “complete” through describing what you do, your title, what companies you work with and where you operate.
  • A taste of your personality. Giving your followers a sense of why

5. Make good use of hashtags:

According to data and best practices on how to use hashtags, tweets with at least one hashtag receive 12.6% more engagement than those without them.

Tacking on a couple of hashtags to any given tweet is a quick way to increase the likelihood of new followers looking for your account. In addition, doing so only takes a couple of seconds and there are plenty of hashtags to choose from.

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound symbol. 

On social media, it serves as an indication (for users and algorithms) that a piece of content relates to a specific topic or belongs to a category. 

Hashtags help make content discoverable in on-platform searches and, effectively, reach more people.

The history of hashtags, (the pound symbol on your keyboard) also called an octothorpe was initially used to mark numbers.

They were first used as hashtags in 2007 by Chris Messina. That’s when the web marketing specialist walked into Twitter’s offices with an idea. Because of the platform’s brevity, he suggested the company start using the pound symbol to group related Tweets together.

Screenshot of Chris Messina’s hashtag post.

This was the first hashtag used by Chris Messina

Since then, the use of hashtag, its reach, and effectiveness have increased.

Hashtag always starts with # but it won’t work if you use spaces, punctuation or symbols. So to make your hashtag work:

  • Make sure your accounts are public. Otherwise, the hashtagged content you write won’t be seen by any non-followers.
  • Don’t string too many words together. The best hashtags tend to be relatively short and easy to remember.
  • Use relevant and specific hashtags. If it is too obscure, it will be hard to find and it won’t likely be used by other social media users.
  • Limit the number of hashtags you use. More isn’t always better. It actually looks spammy.

Why are Twitter hashtags important?

Hashtags help group Tweets and conversations around a similar topic, so people can easily find and follow what interests them. So when someone clicks on or searches a specific hashtag, he/she will be able to find all the profiles and public posts that use that hashtag. For instance, if you search for #MeToo, you will have enough posts on Sexual and Gender Based issues.

Including hashtags in your posts means taking part in a conversation happening on that social media platform. And most importantly, it makes your posts visible in that conversation.

This can lead to greater engagement, boosting your brand’s social media engagement through likes, shares, comments, and new followers.

So while jumping in on popular hashtags and conversations recommended, make sure you fully understand the meaning of a given hashtag and vet its relevance to your voice and identity before firing off a Tweet, because hashtags used in evolving trends can quickly take on additional, unexpected connotations.

That’s why using hashtag search and research tools can help you efficiently and effectively incorporate hashtags into your upcoming content–read on for ways to find top Twitter hashtags.

Things to note when you want to use Twitter hashtags:

  • Tweet about events:

Make the most of Twitter hashtags to join in on conversations around popular events (#Oscars). You can use hashtags to share news about your participation in an event or activity, to create a discussion around the event.

  • Join a weekly trend or challenge:

A lot of the major Twitter hashtags involve weekly challenges and trends, such as #ThrowbackThursday, #MondayMotivation. So if you ever decide to join in on these challenges, don’t forget to make use of the relevant hashtags.

  • Support a cause

It is crucial to stand up for a cause. According to the Sprout Social survey, 70% of followers feel that brands should take a stand on public issues.

And when showing your support for a cause, use Twitter hashtags to gain more visibility. Tarana Burke is perfect example in this aspect, she started a powerful campaign with the use of #MeToo.

  • Join the discussion on relevant topics:

Even when you post about general interest topics (#nature, #marketing, etc.), including a relevant hashtag will help you gain more visibility among an interested audience.

  • Celebrate holidays and notable days:

Use Twitter hashtags when celebrating a holiday and notable days, e.g (#happynewyear) with your community. In addition to highly significant and important holidays, you could join in on the fun with lesser-known celebrations. Be sure to make the most of celebrations that are highly relevant to you.

  • Promote brand campaigns:

The best time to use Twitter hashtags is when you’re promoting your brand and its products. This could be through a hashtag for a certain marketing campaign or even a hashtag for the product itself. You could also create a branded hashtag campaign to collect user-generated content and drive even more visibility around your brand.

  •  Connect with pop culture trends:

Twitter is a conversation hub, especially on pop culture topics. So if you decide to join in on those conversations, using a relevant hashtag for the topic will help your Tweet get some visibility.


Effectively using Twitter hashtags frequently comes down to striking a balance between original branded hashtags and joining the conversation on relevant hashtags. This gives you options in your publishing strategy and content planning; it allows you to focus on pre-planning content around a campaign hashtag or help you gain visibility through popular Twitter trends and events like existing hashtag holidays.

Either way, hashtags are a powerful avenue to brand recognition and success. 

The researcher produced this article per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Jay FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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