A Helpful Hashtag Lesson for Education Companies: And How To Use Them

Are you curious about Twitter but haven't dared to jump in? Maybe now is the time!

Twitter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and there’s a lot of evidence out there that teachers are using it more than other professions. Teachers regularly use Twitter for many reasons, both for classroom use and for professional development. On any given day, educators are:

  • Embracing and sharing new ideas and resources
  • Learning about research and trends in education
  • Connecting with other educators and thought leaders

An Introduction to Hashtags

Hashtags can be a bit of a minefield for social media marketing to educators if you don’t understand how and why they are used. A #hashtag is a way to aggregate tweets that are appended with a #word or a #phrasewithnospaces. 

Think of it like a magnet that attracts all messages identified by that word or phrase.

Hashtag use and following is one method educators use find relevant topics and to open dialogue with fellow educators – and companies too. A hashtag can unite educators at one time, for one reason. It can expand a discussion on any particular topic. 

Searching for a topic by a hash tag or participating in hashtag chats is often standard operating procedure. When used properly, education hashtags help you take part in important conversations and make valuable connections whether you’re trying to reach a teacher, principal or superintendent.

How To Use Hashtags

Let’s first focus on the rules of engagement - how to use hashtags without stomping all over the space and inserting yourself where you won’t get the results you seek.

  • Be kind and respectful of educators’ time. If your tweet doesn’t add value to the discussion or for the user, don’t add the hashtag.
  • Feel free to use more than one hashtag if it TRULY applies to more than one topic, but choose wisely. If you want educators to value your input, respect their time and keep it “clean”.

There are hundreds of hashtags for education, ranging from generic to specific. The best comprehensive list to educational hashtags can be found here: http://goo.gl/4CVDW 

  • #edchat
  • #education
  • #flipclass
  • #blendedlearning
  • #savelibraries

Do I Need A Custom Hashtag?

When it comes to phrases, it is most often best to stick to the best-known hashtags and not try and create your own. Thinking back to the magnet explanation, educators are searching to find the hashtag. Make sure the ones you are using are logical, common, and bring value.

  • #this is not a hashtag
  • #thiswouldbeaverysillyhashtag
  • #please #don’t #hashtag #every #word

There are a few exceptions to the suggestion of using popular or timed hashtags. If you are hosting an event/conference or if you have a targeted campaign your own hashtag might make sense. 

In a conference or an event, you can extend the conversation beyond the conference walls to people who may be interested in your subject but are unable to attend. It is a great way to provide a look at what your conferences offer and build your funnel. And it makes it easy to pull together retrospectives which can be used to market events. 

If you are running a targeted campaign like a giveaway, you can ask educators to do enter by hashtagging your campaign name. In this case, it is fine to do a two or three-word phrase – something like #SummerClass2018 or #PencilsDown will work. 

Should I Join Scheduled Education Chats?

There are also hundreds (thousands?) of scheduled Twitter chats for educators. They happen every day of the week, everyone uses the same hashtag to keep the conversation somewhat structured. Moderators provide additional structure to keep the chat on topic. 

You can find a comprehensive list here (https://sites.google.com/site/twittereducationchats/education-chat-calendar) – but please make sure you understand the landscape before you wade into these conversations. 

Think of them as regional teacher meetings at your local library so teachers can have coffee and talk to each other about their subject. And the local pizza place walks in and takes the microphone and starts pitching their coupon deal for teachers. Even if you walk in and announce free pizza (a great value, right?), you are still walking into an existing group that has a purpose unrelated to pizza, no matter how hungry the guests might be.

Your role, if any, is in sitting down, paying attention, providing value, and respecting the space. 

Better yet, if your company is TRULY perfectly aligned with the chat, speak to the moderator and see if you can participate in a Q&A. 

Keep Learning, Keep Sharing

The Twittersphere changes regularly. Stay current on trends, hashtags, and who to follow. Dedicate time to it regularly to truly get the rewards of participating in the communities Twitter creates. And don’t forget. Being social means engaging with your audience. The best way to get the most out of any channel is by using it.

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About the Author

With several decades of digital marketing experience under her belt, Becca has seen and adapted to the many major evolutions in how we communicate with each other, and she has used each iteration to advance the goals of her clients and their businesses. She has worked with education companies, nonprofits, service organizations, authors and Fortune 100 companies, as both a digital strategist and project manager. She currently runs a social media marketing agency of her own, EMC7, where she focuses on doing well by doing good.

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