Twitter hashtags are powerful tools in crisis communications. When used correctly, hashtags, unify all communications during a crisis and position a company as the true source of accurate information.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick primer: Hashtags are words or phrases designated by the number sign symbol (#) that are like search terms on Twitter. They can really add to the credibility of a business or organization during an active crisis. Hashtags are used all throughout social media, but particularly to Twitter users to mark topics and keywords.
The benefits from using hashtags during a crisis are endless. They allow your organization to be seen as the most reliable and solid source of information. We advise our clients in crisis to use hashtags for consistency during their crisis communications and to help the public aggregate all information from them. If done correctly, hashtags can and should provide your Twitter audience with useful and accurate updates and information.
During the Boston Marathon Bombings, the Boston Police Department made terrific use of hashtags. They clearly had a hashtag strategic plan in place, and used social media for media alerts, news conferences, as well as information request from the Boston community.
Cheryl Fiandaca, bureau chief of public information describes “We corrected a lot of misinformation…we became a very reliable, solid way to get information.”
Here are a few tips on using hashtags during a crisis
- Tweet information that is relevant, timely and useful
- Keep them short and easy to spell
- Avoid overusing hashtags. No more than two per tweet.
- Choose a hastag that’s incident related. For example: #AcmeOilSpill
- Capitalize each word in a multi-word hastag. For example: #BloomfieldWaterMainLeak
- Remember that punctuation can’t be used in a hashtag. #Sarah’s Mistake doesn’t work. Instead, use #SarahsMistake.
Hashtags are a part of pop culture. People use them to express their thought of the moment and businesses use them to create brand awareness. Using them wisely in a crisis can position you as the ultimate source of information and a company that’s well in control of the situation.