By Tim Youngblood
In this part of our Twitter Tutorial Series, we’ll discuss how hashtags work on Twitter and how to use them.
What is a Hashtag?
Pretty much everyone knows what a hashtag is these days, but it helps to delve in and understand their purpose within Twitter. Twitter receives millions of new tweets every day, making the task of categorizing all these tweets impossible for Twitter’s employees to handle themselves. Instead, they crowd-sourced categorization by using hashtags, which essentially function as keyword groups. They are simply Twitter’s best solution to categorization and indexation, similar to how meta keywords were used for SEO before Google’s algorithm became more sophisticated.
How Should Indie Game Developers Use Hashtags?
People usually fall somewhere between two opposing schools of thought on how to use hashtags in marketing campaigns. One school of thought is that users should use as many hashtags as possible (As long as they’re relevant). The other school of thought is that popular hashtags become oversaturated, and promoters are better off making up new ones for more specific audiences. Each strategy has its own merits, but which is better lean toward? The answer really depends on your industry.
Larger brands are more likely to try using their own hashtags because they have to compete with other brands in their own space. These hashtags often correspond with TV commercials and marketing campaigns. Creating and popularizing a new hashtag takes an entire marketing team, and isn’t really feasible for solo devs and small teams. So in the case of indie games, I think that throwing in as many relevant hashtags is a better option for teams that are short on time and money.
These are the types of companies that have to care about hashtag campaigns. Graph courtesy of Talkwalker.
How Are Indie Games Different From Other Niches on Twitter?
Indie games are not large brands, they are not like blockbuster games that release at certain times of the year (Like Christmas). Indie Games aren’t bound to fiscal quarters and they don’t compete with each other the same way that large game publishers do. In fact, I’ll even argue that indie games aren’t really competing with each other at all.
Most indie games are significantly less expensive than big studio games. We’re talking about conversion goals of $5-$25 (In game sales or crowdfunding donations) versus $50-$60 for a big name game. For the price of the new God of War game, I could buy or help fund up to 10 indie games. The markets are completely different. Indie developers aren’t really competing with each other, they’re competing with the ever-dwindling human attention span, which currently averages 8 seconds. This is why giant corporations are willing to spend millions on commercials during the Super Bowl just to promote a new branded hashtag.
You can squeeze a lot of Hashtags into Twitter’s new 280 character limit. Just make sure people can still read it! Legit Games did a nice job with this simple screenshot.
How to Add Hashtags to Your Tweet
Since the indie game scene is much more community-oriented and collaborative than corporate marketing, I say go nuts with those hashtags! Personally, I don’t think you can have too many, but make sure they are positioned in a that doesn’t make your tweet unreadable. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to try making some new and unique hashtags. For example, it never hurts to make the title of your game into a hashtag.
As I’ve said in other articles, the indie game community is very open and supportive. Try all the hashtag combinations you can, and don’t be afraid to keep trying new hashtag combinations on the same content. Most of Twitter is reused content, so don’t feel bad about rehashing old stuff, that’s pretty much all social media is these days anyway.
Not sure where to start with Hashtags? Try using a tool like HashtagifyMe!
Twitter Tutorial Series
Now that you understand the reasoning behind why indie studios use hashtags the way they do, next time, we’ll get into using Twitter’s analytics tools to get the most exposure possible! Please feel free to reach out in the comments if you have any questions!