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There’s no denying that hashtags work. It’s why you see them on adverts and it’s the reason they pop up at the start of popular TV programs. But that’s not what this blog post is about. You know, I know and everybody know’s the importance and power of hashtags. The difficult part comes down to deciding which hashtags to use in your Tweets.

We’ve put together a few key points to consider when it comes to selecting hashtags to use:

Keep it Simple

You’re limited to 140 characters on Twitter so don’t use up this valuable digital real estate with a hashtag that most Twitter users won’t even bother to reuse or read (and that’s if they can). #WouldYouUseHashtagsThisLong? Nope. Then don’t. Your hashtags should be easy to read, quick to type and fairly straight forward containing up to 3 words.

Use Hashtag Research Tools

Take the guess work out of deciding on which hashtags to use and instead use one of the many hashtag research tools available, many freely, on the internet. Hashtagify is probably the most popular and the simplest of the tools out there. It allows you to enter 1 hashtag to discover additional related hashtags that are used by similar Twitter users.

Start off by using a keyword related to your latest blog post (or whatever it is you’re planning to share to Twitter). For example, #Vegan. On entering this hashtag, we’re presented with a few more ideas to use such as #GoVegan and #WhatVegansEat. If we then click #WhatVegansEat we can get a few more hashtag ideas such as #VeganFoodShare, #VeganFood and #VeganLife. From a few minutes of research we’ve discovered a list of relevant keywords that we know people are using on Twitter (as Hashtagify uses real data to generate these hashtag ideas).

Hashtags.org is another great resource for discovering hashtags and also discovering the popularity and usage of a particular hashtag. You can enter any hashtag to see how frequently it is used, the most prolific users who use any given hashtag and related hashtags. You are limited in some areas unless you grab a paid subscription but it’s not cheap.

Learn from Other’s Mistakes

There have been countless hashtagging fails from small brands through to multinational companies but it seems people never learn. One notable hashtag disaster was for Susan Boyle’s album release, #susanalbumparty. If you’re reading that as Susan Album Party then you’re more innocent than most Twitter users who didn’t see it quite like that.

Another embarrassing hashtag spotted by the not-so-innocent crowd on Twitter came from Blackberry who were advertising jobs at Research in Motion (RIM) with #RIMJobs. Confused? Perhaps you need to take a trip over to Urban Dictionary…

If in Doubt, Go for Keywords

Far too many people who are looking to grow their presence on Twitter over think hashtags. Yes, they’re important but they’re far from complicated. If you’re really stuck and don’t know what hashtags to include then simply hashtag a keyword for your niche on the end of your Tweets. Are you blogging about the latest social media marketing news? Then throw #SMM on the end of your Tweets. Do you write about growing your own veg? Then how about #GrowYourOwn or #GYO? You can easily increase your reach on Twitter by simply adding a keyword to the end of your Tweets.

By following the above guidelines when using hashtags you can improve both your reach and your engagement on Twitter. If you’ve got any of your own tips for deciding on which hashtags to use, feel free to share below: