Hashtags and advocacy go together like peanut butter and jelly.
The hashtag distills an issue into an instant, searchable sound bite that can not only travel far, but fast.
MomsRising is a nonprofit that uses hashtags right – consistently, persistently, with focus. I asked MomsRising Director of Social Media Strategy and Blogging Anita Jackson (@anita_sarah) to tell me more about MomsRising’s use of hashtags for its two regular weekly Twitter chats.
Here’s what she wrote.
We take on the most critical issues facing women, mothers, and families by educating the public and mobilizing massive grassroots actions to:
- Bring the voices and real world experiences of women and mothers straight to our local, state, and nation’s leaders
- Amplify women’s voices and policy issues in the national dialogue and in the media across all platforms (from print, to radio, to blogs, social media, and more)
- Accelerate grassroots impact on Capitol Hill and at state capitols across the country
- Hold corporations accountable for fair treatment of women and mothers and for ensuring the safety of their products
Hashtags You Use
— MomsRising (@MomsRising) April 15, 2014
When Did You Begin Using the Hashtags?
For #wellnesswed, we began in October 2012, with a weekly Wellness Wed series on the blog before that.
On Which Social Networks Do You Use the Hashtag(s)?
We primarily use #wellnesswed on Twitter, but have also occasionally used it on Facebook to announce the tweetchat (a tactic we no longer use), and do still use it in titles on our blog since each post is tweeted with its title and URL.
— MomsRising (@MomsRising) January 2, 2015
How Do You Track the Hashtag?
Tweetreach Pro provides us the most reliable, detailed, and easy to read tracking information. It includes number of accounts reached, estimated potential impressions, individual accounts participating, accounts with the most retweets, tweets, and impressions, and a chart of the use of the hashtag over time.
Describe How Your Organization Uses These Hashtags
We use the #wellnesswed and #foodfri hashtags to:
- Share relevant, useful information on topics of interest to our readers, fans, and followers
- Build relationships with experts on various topics so they can cohost with us and share the spotlight
- Encourage people to take action related to the topic
Why Is This Hashtag Successful? Can You Point to a Specific Outcome It Has Helped to Produce?
We regularly engage directly with thousands of Twitter users and reach millions with these hashtags as measured by TweetReach. It’s gotten to the point where this happens weekly, but having some of these tweetchats cohosted by partners with big follower numbers (like celebrities and others with many followers) helped boost our reach, and some of those folks who found us because they followed the celebrities returned to later chats, as well.
Both #wellnesswed and #foodfri have provided grassroots Twitter users with information on topics that matter most to moms and families, like how to get health coverage, how to advocate for healthier school food, and more.
One of the most important goals we set for tweetchats is to share resources and information that people have told us they need. When we see people retweeting us — on deadlines to sign up for healthcare coverage, on what Congress is doing or not doing to protect low income families, on how the Affordable Care Act relates to taxes, and more — we know we’re making a difference in people’s functional knowledge of these topics.
One great specific outcome is that we’ve had many cohosts for these tweetchats approach us because they’d seen prior tweetchats! They saw what great engagement there was and how fun it was, and they wanted to be part of the dialogue. We’ve been able to share a wide range of information because of the various cohosts who have approached us to partner.
Another specific outcome is that we’ll sometimes get journalists to see our tweets and approach us for more information. They come to see us as a reliable source that shares good information, and we’re able to pass along resources along with personal stories from our members.
Share Your Hashtag Tip for Fellow Nonprofits
Be consistent! If you want people to use your hashtag, show them how to do it: Share valuable resources with it at a predictable day and time each week, which ideally is a time you can be online at the same time as your primary audience. They will begin to gather for it, look forward to it, tell their friends about it, and share their own resources with it. And you’ll know you’ve made a difference!
Here’s a sample of a curated MomsRising chat on Storify.