It can be difficult for your nonprofit to stand out on Twitter, a growing world with over 500 million users constantly hitting refresh. With hashtags, however, tweets that would normally be “live” for just 10 seconds or less could expand into long-lasting discussions that really make an impact.
Hashtags allow your post to show up in Twitter searches. Without them, only your followers see your posts unless they’re retweeted. Tweets with hashtags also get twice the amount of engagement and are 55 percent more likely to get retweeted. We know it can be tough to figure out how to best use hashtags, but here are four great tips to use that little pound sign to boost awareness for your cause.
1. Think Engagement
Whether your nonprofit is big or small, it’s essential that you keep your supporters engaged. A great way to engage followers is by planning an open Q&A or an hour-long, real time chat on Twitter. Select a hashtag for your chat, and every tweet that contributes to the conversation should include that hashtag, which will link the tweets.
Tools like Tweetchat allow you to easily manage the chat, and some even add the hashtags automatically since Twitter chats move quickly. Even though you might not be able to answer everything that comes your way, having a hashtag opens up the conversation to a linked community of people and allows others to find your chat and get involved. Between your followers, volunteers, and other Twitter users, your hashtag can quickly create a buzz for your cause. The American Heart Association’s #StrokeChat is a great example of how chats based on a hashtag can engage followers quickly.
2. Join the Big Conversation
It’s no secret by now that hashtags are a common tool used by big events. From the #superbowl to the #grammys, hashtags highlight trending topics around the globe. It may seem like using popular hashtags could make your tweet go unnoticed, but a distinctive post can stand out—or even change the conversation entirely.
Check out how Ted Talks redirected the trending #SpellingBee and brought the focus to its cause. You can find trending hashtags on the Twitter website and through tools like Trendsmap which give you trends by location, or others like Hashtagify.me which allows you to see the most popular tags in a period of time and the most popular tags associated with a given topic. Research popular tags and find a way to incorporate them into your tweets.
3. Be Fun
People love being part of a worthy cause, but there are a lot out there. Using fun, catchy hashtags serves as a friendly, regular reminder of your organization’s needs and puts the name and focus of your important work at the forefront of your followers’ minds. The Humane Society’s #MuttMonday tweets are a great (and adorable) example of a weekly, fun hashtag that keeps followers interested and involved.
4. Expand Your Reach
Specific hashtags like those you might use for your Twitter chat can be great, but don’t be afraid to use broader ones like #donate, #charity, #volunteer, or #giveback. These allow potential supporters to find out about your organization and get involved. Niche hashtags can help to identify your nonprofit, but they don’t have the reach (or the searchability) to attract new followers like a more generic tag. Hashtags such as #NPTech (nonprofit technology) and #CharityTuesday are also a couple of popular hashtags you can leverage.
Use these tips to expand your reach and spark conversations on Twitter. By adding strategic ones, you’ll increase your chances of getting found and increasing the impact of each message.
A former nonprofit communications director, Justin Belmont is CEO of Prose Media, a popular content writing service. Prose Media supports many nonprofits and social enterprises by crafting original blog posts, bylined articles, white papers, social media, and fundraising collateral. Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.