Your Nonprofit Can #Hashtag Like A Pro

Power of the hashtag on Twitter.

Back in December we wrote about How Charities Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Twitter. This blog post explained why charities should be on Twitter and how they can get started. An important feature of Twitter was touched upon: hashtags. They play a large role in how Twitter can be used effectively by a charity to promote their cause and engage supporters.
What are hashtags?
Hashtags are phrases, names, and words preceded by the pound symbol. For example, the topic nonprofit technology is usually hashtagged as #nptech. Hashtags help to organize and tie together tweets from different users who are tweeting about the similar topics and using the same hashtag in their tweets. Hashtags make it easier for you to add your voice to a specific subject on the Twitterverse and it makes it easier for your tweets to be discovered by searchers. Once a hashtag leads searchers to your tweet it can result in retweets, messages, and clicks on link attachments. Hashtags also allow you to search for tweets yourself and listen in on topics you may be interested in. Searching for a specific hashtag can give you a rich news stream about a specific subject people are tweeting about on Twitter.
How should hashtags be used?
There are several reasons why hashtags shouldn’t be too lengthy. First, they count towards your tweet’s 140 character limit and anyone who is tweeting will know that these limited characters should be used for the core message of the tweet rather than being wasted in a hashtag. Second, long hashtags are very hard to read. Third, they just look bad! Hashtags should be short and simple. This will help make them memorable, catchy, and easier for others to share when adding it into their own tweets.
If your charity is organizing an event or campaign, you should create a unique hashtag for it. By using this unique hashtag consistently while promoting your event on Twitter, people following your tweets, sharing your event via retweeting, and writing about your event will begin to use the unique hashtag as well. This will help when your supporters are following your event on Twitter because the hashtag will group together all the tweets regarding your event and there won’t be a mix up with any other online topics if people are all using your unique event hashtag when referring to your event.
Make sure you integrate your event’s unique hashtag into your other marketing material. Social media is more effective when integrated with other marketing materials and cross promotion is occurring. For example, you will be tweeting about your other marketing efforts and advertising media to promote them and bring attention to them. Vice versa. Cross promotion of the hashtag on TV ads, print material, your website, event invitations, and at the end of Youtube videos will spread the usage of the hashtag amongst your charity’s supporters and your Twitter followers.
There are several Twitter hashtags that are already very popular in the nonprofit world. Think of these hashtags as news categories. Find out if your charity’s tweet fits under one of these already established hashtags. If so, then tag your tweet with these hashtags so you may take advantage of the fact that people are following and searching their Twitter news feeds for these specific hashtags on a daily basis. For example, if you are tweeting about the latest development in a software that will help nonprofits fundraise then use #nptech and #fundraising. If you are tweeting about having trouble applying for a grant and would like some advice then use #grants and/or #grantwriting.
Here’s a list of hashtags that may be of use to your nonprofit.
#CSR – corporate social responsibility
#followfriday or #FF
#NGO – non-governmental organizations
#nptech – nonprofit technology
#sm4sg – social media for social good
Regardless of what your charity is tweeting about on a daily basis, try to use hashtags as often as possible so that your tweets can be grouped together with the larger Twitter discussion online. There’s no better way to learn how to use hashtags and see their effectiveness than just trying it out on your next tweet!!

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