Being the marketing scientist that I am, a few months ago I decided to slap on my safety goggles and run a little experiment on integrating hashtags into the titles of articles. You may be wondering why the heck one would do that, and since it’s not currently being done on a wide scale you have a very valid point, but hopefully this article will change your mind.
Hashtags are truly an integral part of Twitter and many companies rely on hashtags for contests, building brand hype, and tracking/sparking conversations on particular topics (e.g. #socialmedia). I’ve found that most website links shared on Twitter, such as links to blog posts, simply use the post title (often copy/pasted) in the Tweet, which is accompanied by a shortened link to the content. Sometimes hashtags are inserted, or the title is adapted to include hashtags, but such an insertion is not automatic.
My idea was that by adding a hashtag in the title at the time of publication, blog entries will almost forcefully gain exposure by being placed in the appropriate categories to begin with. After running a few tests and crunching the numbers, we’ve found this to be true.
Out of 5 articles that were written without hashtags in the title, only 23% of Tweets ended up utilizing the most popular, relevant hashtags. On the flip side, when the hashtags being targeted were included in the blog title, they appeared in 81% of Tweets. This wasn’t a very controlled experiment because the articles themselves are different, however it sheds light on the topic.
One thing to note is that hashtags shouldn’t be inserted in all blog titles and must be used sparingly. Only insert hashtags in titles when your goal is to gain exposure on Twitter as they won’t do much good on Facebook, LinkedIn, or social bookmarking websites.
We’re going to continue researching this topic and will provide more information when it becomes available. In the meantime, feel free to give me a holler on Twitter and share your thoughts.