A Scientific Guide to Hashtags: How Many, Which Ones, and Where to Use Them

This post originally published on April 8, 2014. We’ve updated it here with new info, screenshots, and audio.

Have you ever found yourself explaining hashtags to someone whose only connection with the word is as a telephone button?

Internet language has evolved considerably over the past few years as social media has taken off. Hashtags are a huge part of this evolution. What once was a telephone button is now a social media phenomenon.  No wonder people are curious.

When they ask, I tell them that hashtags are a pound sign immediately followed by a keyword. They’re used for categorization on social media. Yes, they can be annoying if overused. And yes, I’ve seen the hashtag video of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

Hashtags also have the potential to be truly valuable. The stats and info below make a pretty clear case that we should be understanding, using, and appreciating hashtags.

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The Big List of Twitter Tools: 91 Free Twitter Tools and Apps to Fit Any Need

This post originally published on August 11, 2014. We’ve updated it here with the latest, newest tools and screenshots.

For those familiar with the original post, we’ve added these new tools: BrookWarbleTwitterificTwurlyFiltaHashKlearTwitter account homeSocial BearingStats for TwitterPabloSpruceTwitshotShare As ImageTagboardListen to TwitterSquallThunderclapPeriscopeMeerkatTwitter FeedTwitterfavClick to TweetBedazzlePullquote.

Twitter is a fascinating adventure of relationships, entertainment, education, and fun. Now imagine layering on a few dozen power-ups.

That’s how it feels sometimes when you find just the right Twitter tool. And there’s a tool for practically every desire or whim.

Tools for productivity, for efficiency, for research, and so much more. With such a generous API, Twitter tools have become legion—and we social sharers are better off for it.

At Buffer, we tend to come across a fair share of social media tools. We’ve collected a great bunch to share with you! Here are all the tools we’ve found helpful and many more that we’re excited to try. If there’s a free Twitter tool out there, you’re likely to find a mention here in our list. 

(If I missed any good free Twitter tools, let me know in the comments!)

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The 4 Biggest Pinterest Marketing Mistakes We Made (And How You Can Learn From Them)

I’m a bit embarrassed to share my early Pinterest Pins.

But here they are anyway.

A pin loaded with hashtags, a really odd-sized image, an image with a one-word description, a Pin with no description at all.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes with Pinterest, both in the Pins I’ve created and in the strategies and plans I’ve set forth.

And I’ve come to discover that Pinterest is wholly unique from Twitter and Facebook, and that I’ve had things quite wrong from the start.

All these mistakes have been a wonderful opportunity to learn. I’m grateful for the chance to keep improving my Pinterest strategy, and I’d love to share with you all my mistakes and the new perspectives I’ve gained from researching and experimenting with the best ways to Pin on Pinterest.

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The 7 Hidden Factors of the Most Effective Social Media Ads

I’ve resisted social media advertising for a long time, believing that there are a host of free tools and free strategies that can help your business grow on social media organically.

What I’ve come to find out (and I’d imagine many of you have discovered this already) is this:

If you’re spending money to advertise online, social media ads may very well earn you the biggest returns.

(In some cases, it’s the cheapest way to reach people.) 

There are so many inspiring digital marketers who are pioneering the best practices and cool strategies for social media advertising. As we dip our toes further into social ads here at Buffer, it’s been fun to discover all the great tips we might try. I’ve collected seven of my favorite ones here in this blog post—a list of simple, actionable tips that drive successful social media ads. 

I’d love to hear in the comments any strategies you might add!

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19+ Free Tools to Start Your Podcast From Scratch

“Slack is starting a podcast for some reason.”

That was the headline of a recent Fortune.com article. Author Tom Huddleston, Jr. wondered why Slack, “a hot Silicon Valley company with a fast-growing valuation,” would “make the most of its ever-growing momentum” by launching a podcast.

But to content marketers, Slack’s move isn’t surprising at all.

The podcast world has recently exploded. Since 2008, the number of Americans tuning in each month has doubled—from 9% to 17% in January 2015.

And companies are paying attention. Many sponsor podcasts as part …

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The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet

Updated 7/1/2015: Added some new insights and learnings into the blog post here. We’re so grateful for the chance to learn from the community on this!

Imagine removing all guesswork when you schedule your tweets, knowing the best times to experiment with tweeting for maximum clicks and maximum engagement.

As someone who shares frequently to social media, this info would be fantastic to have! We’re always eager to dig up new research into social media best practices—things like length and frequency and timing.

The timing element, in particular, feels like one where we’d love to dig deeper. And we just so happen to have a host of data on this from the 2 million users who have signed up for Buffer!

With a big hand from our data team, we analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles, pulling the stats on how clicks and engagement and timing occur throughout the day and in different time zones. We’d love to share with you what we found!

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How to Choose the Right Stock Photo for Your Next Project

You’ve likely got a great way to search the web for the best free stock photos.

And once you know where to look, how do you decide which photos to choose?

Should you go with abstract or specific?

What is the best color profile?

What is the best orientation?

There are so many great sources for free photos. I find myself asking these questions most every time I pick a photo—how to identify the right stock photo for a project. There’s a good bit of research and advice out there on how to make the best choice when it comes to stock photos. Take a look at what I’ve found here.

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7 Top Marketing Podcasts and the Lessons They’ve Taught Me

As someone who’s motivated by self-improvement and achieving more, I’m constantly trying to learn as much as I can.

Books are naturally one of my main go-to sources of knowledge. But there’s also a wealth of information to be consumed in the awesome world of podcasts. For digital marketers in particular, there are tons of great marketing podcasts out there, each with their own ideas to try and lessons to learn.

And. All this information is completely free!

Listed below are my 7 favorite marketing podcasts and the lessons they’ve taught me. If you have a favorite one that’s not listed here, I’d love to hear about it!

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Can You Run a Marketing Program With Zero Goals?

So much of marketing, it seems, is geared toward growth and traction, particularly when it comes to startups and technology. We are pressed on all sides by tracking metrics, pivoting, learning, and growing—a sort of exponential growth mindset that envelops, well, everything: content, social, email, community. If you haven’t measured it, then it doesn’t count. If you can’t measure it, you’re better off without it.

We’re surrounded by this movement at Buffer, kind of like a stone is surrounded by a stream: change is flowing around us and we’re deciding whether to tumble along or stay still.

Today’s marketing teams seem quite focused on growth and traction.

Can you run a marketing program with an emphasis on neither?

And one of our favorite follow-up questions: What happens if you do?

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The Psychology of Selfies: Why We Love Taking and Viewing Photos of Faces

How many photos of you are on your phone right now?

These days, humans take almost 1 trillion photos a year. (To put that into context, that’s more photos every few minutes than in the entire 19th century.)

And lots of these photos are selfies—self-portraits, usually taken with a smartphone. As of this writing, nearly 300 million Instagram photos had been tagged with the selfie label.

We love getting into the “whys” of social media psychology, so in this post I set out to discover why …

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