Twitter Hashtag Analysis: Do People Really Use Them?

The first thing which comes in to your mind if you hear somebody talking about Twitter is hashtags. Hashtags are used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet and are a central feature in the social network. The hashtags on Twitter were born on August 23, 2007 and invented by Chris Messina. His first tweet using hashtags reads as follows:

A lot of studies tried to identify the best hashtags and what the best number of hashtags are you should use. Hashtags can start conversations and make a tweet findable by a much bigger audience than your own followers and increase interactions. Twitter creates lists with trending hashtags and hashtags can be used to find relevant news or even predict global events. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently published a study with the result that especially data from Twitter could predict the 2013 coup in Egypt and the social unrest associated with it.

Twitter itself recommended the use of hashtags and found out that using hashtags

“can increase engagement almost 100% (2x) for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands.”

So hashtags are very important if you want to reach a lot of people or make people start conversations about your tweet or your brand.

Our newest research shows that there are a lot of Twitter users which are not aware of the power that hashtags can give a tweet and don’t use hashtags at all.

Twitter Hashtag Analysis: More Than 50% Of The Tweets Did Not Use Hashtags

I used our massive amount of stored tweets and processed a sample set of more than 40,000 tweets over a time period of 19 months (2013-01 to 2014-07). Then I analyzed how many hashtags each of these tweets used.

Let’s take a look at the actual results.

Twitter Hashtag Analysis  Do People Really Use Them

The result shows that 58% or 25,532 tweets did not use any hashtag at all. This is a very unexpected number because hashtags are a central part in the communication and the functioning of Twitter. We should expect that the most tweets use at least one hashtag per tweet.

Furthermore the distribution of tweets containing 1 to 5 hashtags is the same and does not change fundamentally over the time period of 19 months. The high amount of tweets which do not contain any hashtag is not a phenomenon limited to a certain time period.

There can be several reasons for this trend. It could for example be an indication that more and more people use Twitter to communicate with people directly with the use of @-mentions in their tweets. In this case they just want to reach certain Twitter users and therefore have no ambition to create a bigger reach.

This can be a problem to find global trends, which is a main part of Twitter’s business and it is also one of the most important targeting possibilities for ads. Twitter seems to be fully aware of this problem. And this is why they started calculating trends and interests of a user not only based on hashtags used in the tweets but also on all words a tweet contains.

They also announced that they bought the deep learning startup Madbits, which focuses on computer vision and image recognition. This can help Twitter analyze pictures and identify their content even when they are not described by hashtags.

 

#Hashtags #Tweets Percentage
0 23532 58.78 %
1 10436 26.07 %
2 4497 11.23 %
3 1154 2.88 %
4 304 0.76 %
5 108 0.27 %

[Source: Quintly]

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