If you have figured out that social media can boost political campaigns, you've figured out just half the battle of digital campaigning. The other half is hashtag optimization and knowing how to strategically use political hashtags to elevate your posts from the noise. Here are some effective hashtag usage tips for political branding, political engagement, and campaigning.
Before looking into how political hashtags can boost your social media presence and going into some hashtag usage tips, it's important to understand why you need social media visibility in the first place. Opening an account on Twitter (or X), Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok will all boost your visibility because each platform attracts a different demographic. And your goal is to connect with your audience quickly, in ways that are not possible through traditional avenues, such as public speaking forums. You also get to engage in online activism in real time. This means quickly responding to any online political discourse, reacting to trending political topics, engaging in digital dialogue, or even cleaning up a crisis as it unfolds. The beauty of having different social media accounts that speak to different demographics is that you simply get to reach a wider audience, and you can tailor your messages depending on the platform. You can engage your audience online, address any concerns they have, and answer questions that they feel are relevant to the politics of today. You'll also appear to be more accessible by engaging in conversational political discourses, which can help on the likeability scale. Social media is worldwide, so your audience and your online activism won't be limited to your city. If you are savvy enough with your political activism, your political organization can create a worldwide movement. Does this seem overly optimistic? Not necessarily. Tweets and posts go viral all the time, and the trick is finding out how to make your Twitter hashtags and posts go viral. Most importantly, though, having social media visibility gives politicians running political campaigns the opportunity to track their campaigning process, to see how well they're engaging with their supporters, how audiences are reacting to their content creation, and more. They can then evaluate and adjust their messaging and political content to tweak them so that they align with trending political topics or relevant campaign issues. In other words, data analytics acts like a compass when you're out at sea.
Having a social media presence can amount to very little if you can't effectively use your platform as a campaigning tool, though. In fact, everything mentioned above can fail spectacularly if you're skipping one major step. And that step is utilizing political hashtags. Yes, everyone is on social media, but not everyone's posts get read. Is it possible to exist in oblivion while on social media? Absolutely. But, one of the effective tools that you can use to boost your online activism or online political discourse is applying hashtag optimization techniques. A hashtag is a word or phrase that starts with the number symbol (#). You can create new ones or use existing ones. With the 2024 presidential election coming up, a couple of popular hashtag trends are #PresidentialElection2024, #election, and #CharacterCounts, for example. But, how can utilizing political hashtags benefit your political campaign, especially if you're a third-party or independent candidate?
Visibility and Political Branding
If you're running for office, you can hashtag the office with the election year, so that anyone interested in the election can simply click on that hashtag and get a list of tweets or posts on that subject. Hashtags for independent candidates or third-party candidates can be especially effective. A good example would be #PhiladelphiaMayor2024. These kinds of hashtag strategies let readers know you are running for the mayor of Philly in 2024. It also filters down Twitter hashtags for those interested in that topic. Users don't have to scroll through thousands of tweets to find the information they need.
Increasing Your Political Engagement
You can also find out what's trending politically and insert yourself into that conversation by using trending hashtags. Twitter (or X) has trending hashtags on the right side of its main page. If you click on the "Show More," the page will open up to everything that is trending at that moment. You can then click on "Trending", "News", or other topics at the top of the menu to see all the hashtag trends of the day. One of the ways to insert your message into a trending topic is to find trending political topics (#ChildTaxCredit for instance) and tweet your own political position. At the end of the tweet or post, add #ChildTaxCredit. This lets you join an ongoing conversation, and you'll capture the attention of a lot of people interested in that topic.
You can also use hashtags to engage in conversational political issues that interest you. If your hashtag goes viral, it can become a trending discussion on social media or even get media coverage. Want to take hashtag trends and target them to a specific audience? Representative Jackie Speier took the #MeToo hashtag and added #MeTooCongress to create a separate category that was more specific to politics. Not only was her goal to share her own #MeToo experience, but it was also to reach out to like-minded individuals within the political sphere.
One of the best ways to mobilize a segment of the population is to create a hashtag for it. As divided as the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag became, it certainly gained a worldwide following and massive support. In fact, according to Twitter's statistics, the #BlackLivesMatter was the third most used social-issue hashtag. From mid-2013 through March 2016, the Black Lives Matter hashtag was on Twitter 11.8 million times. This number doesn't include the number of times it showed up on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. And as CNN reports, using a hashtag to create political activism or a "global rallying cry" clearly worked.
Creating effective hashtag strategies isn't always intuitive. However, here are some hashtag usage tips to consider:
How to better use social media hashtags in politics? The first step is to find hashtags that align with your political campaigning message and your audience. The political hashtags should highlight the causes that you represent. Hashtags for independent candidates may look a little different from mainstream candidates, but the idea remains the same: Choose a hashtag that represents your message and your ideals. Create one hashtag for your campaign that's memorable and specific. This can help with political branding and it can make it easier for your supporters to reshare your posts. Once you choose your Instagram and Twitter hashtags, remember to categorize them for different things, like campaign events, online activism, political discussions, and so on. You can also have a mix of hashtags. Some can be a call to action, some can be to educate, some can be solely for political branding, and some can be to evoke emotion.
Your hashtags should be short, clear, and easy to remember. Hashtags that are too long or too complicated won't catch on. The goal is to create a hashtag that gains traction and goes viral. Once you have a few relevant hashtags, don't use them all at once. One to three in a post or tweet should be enough. If you use too many, it can overshadow your message.
As mentioned above, it's always a good idea to incorporate trending hashtags into your posts and digital dialogue. You'll actively insert yourself into trending political topics which can help increase your visibility. If you can't find a trending hashtag, have your team monitor trending hashtags daily to see which ones align with your political organization.
Once you have chosen your hashtags, use them across all your social media platforms, your online political content, banners, and any literature you print out. You can also encourage your supporters to retweet your messages and share your hashtags. This hashtag optimization strategy ensures they are visible all the time.
If you use hashtags in your posts, stay up to date with any online political discourse and conversational tweets around those hashtags. This can help you adapt your message and stay on top of discussions. You can also use this opportunity to engage with people who have questions on the subject the hashtag covers or with social media influencers and organizations.
Once you have studied hashtag analytics, you'll have a good sense of when the majority of people see your posts. Timing your posts and Twitter hashtags can help boost your social media visibility. You can also use these kinds of hashtag analytics to schedule call to action posts.
One of the best ways to spread your message and ideas is through social media influencers, like-minded organizations, and other activists. You can do this by starting a digital dialogue and engaging them directly in an online political discourse.
Social media is always evolving, and hashtags are too. To ensure your hashtag strategies are working, monitor the performance of your hashtags daily by keeping track of hashtag analytics. Address negative comments, any mudslinging, and adjust your messages if necessary.
It's not always easy to make a hashtag go viral. The "Me Too" movement was originally a grassroots movement started by Tarana Burke. It went viral when actress Alyssa Milano asked women to respond to her tweet with a "Me Too." Nevertheless, you can still create effective hashtags if you run for office or you run as an independent. And there are hashtags for independent candidates or third-party candidates that can go viral as well. Never underestimate a great hashtag! You don't necessarily have to have the clout of celebrities or social media influencers to get your message heard. But, you should have some key ingredients.
Your hashtag should be relevant to the goals of your political organization. It should align with your issues and the topics that you want to address. The Black Lives Matter movement gained traction at a time when police brutality seemed excessive, especially towards people of color. This timeliness resulted in a call to action hashtag that mobilized a movement.
A specific hashtag is like a detailed, conversational narrative where the details of the story and setting are precise. In the same way, your hashtag should be specific to the message you're trying to get across. The "Me Too" hashtag, for instance, was very specific to women who felt the same abuse had happened to them. And all they needed to say was simply, "Me too" for the world - literally, the world - to understand that this was a global problem.
Effective hashtags should be unique so that they are easily distinguished from other movements, other rallying cries, or even from mainstream politics. Hashtags for independent candidates and third-party candidates can benefit by being unique and against the status quo, for instance.
Effective hashtags are self-explanatory. Users shouldn't have to read pages of news stories to figure out what the political content is.
What tends to make a hashtag go viral is its appeal. If you can find a hot-button issue that has broad appeal, you can create an effective hashtag to summarize or highlight your point of view.
There's an ongoing debate about the harmful effects of social media and the toxicity that it promotes. However, political campaigns can still greatly benefit from social media. Using hashtag strategies to boost their social media visibility can be a game changer. So, how to better use social media hashtags in politics? Use the effective tools listed above to get better political engagement and increased visibility. Join our movement and follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook or on Twitter @goodpartyorg