Everyone seems to be using hashtags – on billboards, TV and on the web – but what exactly are they and how can they help your business?

A hashtag is simply a way for Twitter users to separate and organize their tweets into specific topics.There are many people, as well as programs, who search twitter every day for relevant hashtags to retweet about. By creating your own hashtag and using it regularly, you can greatly increase your company’s ability to reach a larger audience.

Below are five tips to help you make an effective hashtag campaign.

#ShortandSweet: Hashtags should be short – one or two words.Since most hashtags come at the end of a tweet, they are not part of what the tweeter actually wants to say but rather an identifier that the message pertains to a particular subject or trend. Hashtags are for your followers to have a community discussion. Keeping them short leaves more characters available for discussion.

#Consistency: Once you have a hashtag, you must continue to use it. A hashtag not used regularly by your company will not be referenced by your audience.

#BeTrendy: Keep up with trending issues and topics. By staying relevant, your followers will be more likely to pay attention to your posted content, expertise and opinions. Refrain from posting valueless content.

#Promote: Once you make your hashtag, you have to send it out into the Twitterverse with a bang. Do not just create it, sit back and hope the followers will come. Use other methods to raise awareness – advertising, PR, etc. Once your followers pick up on it they will begin to help promote it for you.

#Categorize:Always watch what tweets are being posted with your hashtag. The more generic your chosen hashtag is, the more likely it will be used by a user unknowingly for an irrelevant post. This could provide interesting discussion, but could also connect your company with unintended and unflattering material!

Hashtags are a tricky thing to master and only the most relevant and useful ones last beyond their initial trial tweets. We hope these five tips help you create ones that promotes interesting conversations and value for your company, and we look forward to seeing those discussions occur!