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TBT Meaning, and How to Use “Throwback Thursday” on Social Media

Using common hashtags like #MondayMotivation #TipTuesday, and #TBT is important for engaging a larger audience across your social media platforms and therefore raising your brand awareness. This article comes from Hootsuite.

TBT Meaning, and How to Use “Throwback Thursday” on Social Media

You’ve probably seen #TBT or “Throwback Thursday” before. Maybe it was an embarrassing yearbook photo from a high school friend. Maybe it was an Instagram post from your mom of that vacation you took last year. Maybe it was even just a tweet about an awesome party that happened a few months ago. TBT is an incredibly popular hashtag used by basically everyone—your aunt, influencers, celebrities, and first ladies.

For brands, TBT is a great opportunity to build engagement, increase awareness, tell stories, and just have a little fun with social media. That’s why we want to show you what exactly TBT is, how it works, and how to use it for maximum impact.

What does TBT mean?

TBT stands for Throwback Thursday. People use it when sharing old photos and videos of themselves for nostalgia. It doesn’t just have to be photos or videos either. Users can share texts of memories or audio recordings.

While commonplace now, the origins of #TBT are a bit of a mystery. According to Vox, one of the first uses of the hashtag appeared in 2006 when a blogger named Mark Halfhill used it for his sneaker blog.

The first #TBT post on Instagram, according to TIME, was a shot of Hot Wheels toy cars shared by guy named Bobby in February 2011.

The hashtag has since taken on a life of its own and become one of the most popular hashtags on social media. At the time of writing, there are 488 million posts on Instagram with the hashtag #TBT.

That’s the history of TBT—but why should you care?

1. Increase engagement

Twitter found that brands that used hashtags more saw a 50% increase in engagement in their tweets when compared to those who did not use hashtags.

2. Increase audience

Many users tend to follow different hashtags—and #TBT is no exception. That means when you use it, your post will show up in their feed, thereby introducing your brand to an entirely new audience.

3. Improve brand awareness

#TBT gives you an opportunity to share exactly who your brand is and where it came from. You can tell your brand’s story by sharing old photos and videos while introducing your business to new people.

In short, you have lots to gain by experimenting with the hashtag.

As long as you adhere to that rule, your content should work.

Some common formats are:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Text
  • Audio

And while you can post any old photo or video and put a #TBT on the post, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind when using the hashtag:

Photos must be shared on Thursday

This is a no brainer, but it is a crucial element of #TBT success. While you can leverage similar hashtags such as #FlashbackFriday (for more, see below), #ThrowbackThursday is MUCH more popular. And let’s be honest: #FlashbackFriday only exists because some people forgot to participate in #TBT.

It should include the hashtag #TBT, #ThrowbackThursday, or both

This is hashtag use 101, but it’s important to note that your image won’t show up in #TBT searches if you forget to tag it.

It has to be old

While you can post a #TBT post from a relatively recent moment (e.g., a party a few weeks ago), a true #TBT post throws back to a noticeably different period. For a brand or business, it needs to harken back to a different time (think decades rather than mere years). A good rule of thumb for great #TBT posts: The best Throwback Thursday posts are of pictures and videos from before the Internet was popular.

Stick to one per week

This is less of a hard and fast rule. You can just use your judgement—but the common wisdom of the internet suggests that it’s best, for ultimate impact, to keep it to one nostalgia-inducing snap per week.

For more on the power of hashtags in your marketing campaigns, be sure to check out our article on daily hashtags and how to use them.

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