TBT — or Throwback Thursday — isn’t just for old baby pictures. We’ve got 7 tips to help your brand make the most of the popular hashtag.
Some hashtags feel like quaint relics of an internet past. But there’s one throwback hashtag that will never go out of style: #TBT.
Maybe it’s because this hashtag comes with nostalgia built right in, but the #TBT (or #ThrowbackThursday) hashtag somehow never gets old. It appeals to people’s deep desire to share their favorite moments from the past.
In other words, #TBT is here to stay. Here’s how to use it in 2023.
Bonus: Download a free guide to discover which hashtags to use to boost traffic and target customers on social media. And then learn how you can use Hootsuite to measure results.
What does TBT mean?
TBT stands for “Throwback Thursday.” Social media users use this hashtag on posts that “throwback” to an older version of themselves. While the hashtag is most common on Twitter and Instagram, you can find it used all over the internet.
TBT or Throwback Thursday posts can be selfies, audio or video recordings, or even text describing a memory or a past event. It’s a handy excuse to dredge up a memory from the past. (In fact, it might not even be a good memory — a Throwback Thursday post could also play nicely as the “before” to a “before and after” post.)
When did TBT start?
The history of this social media trend actually goes back pretty far. Vox says that blogger Mark Halfhill was one of the first to use the phrase on his sneaker blog in 2006, while Time reports that a guy named Bobby first brought the #ThrowbackThursday hashtag to life on Instagram with this photo of Hot Wheels in 2011:
📸Double bassoon in 1942, with principal Archie Camden. #ThrowbackThursday pic.twitter.com/w1K50kklQq
— BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus (@BBCSO) January 12, 2023
3. Awkward fun
Humor is one of the most infectious traits you can have online, and Throwback Thursday is a perfect time to prove you’re game for a laugh. When all else fails, use the hashtag as an excuse to get silly.
Health influencer Dr. Shriram Nene proved he’s a good sport and in on the joke when he shared this hilarious prom pic from his “awkward teenage years” for TBT:
Nothing like our awkward teenage years, right? #ThrowbackThursday #TBT #ThursdayThoughts pic.twitter.com/YIgFQbIW34
— Dr. Shriram Nene (@DoctorNene) December 8, 2022
Alternative radio DJ St. Pete Sam pulled off a double whammy by incorporating the #NationalBaconDay hashtag into her TBT post with this slow-motion video of herself munching on some bacon:
in honor of it being #nationalbaconday, here’s a super awkward #tbt video of me eating bacon with @budlight at #kegsandeggs in 2019. 😂🥓 @stpetesam #bacon #budlight #brandambassador pic.twitter.com/6RdCx3INAd
— 97X (@97xonair) December 30, 2021
Author Patricia Cornwell upped the ante with some ’90s cheese, posting a TBT pic straight out of 90210:
Here’s a cheesy pic taken in California when I was learning how to scuba dive (mid-nineties).💕🤿#TBT pic.twitter.com/mVGpSc9E35
— Patricia Cornwell (@1pcornwell) December 8, 2022
4. Mark a milestone
Whether it’s an anniversary, a birthday or any old occasion worth remembering, TBT is a great time to post something from the past. Use old ephemera — think posters, ticket stubs or other fun items — to highlight a unique milestone from your brand’s history.
The official Twitter for the Black Sabbath page regularly marks time with TBT posts, posting ticket stubs for concerts that happened on that day in the past:
January 12, 1999
Seattle, Washington#tbt #ThrowbackThursday pic.twitter.com/sCOAkBZ7jO
— BlackSabbath (@BlackSabbath) January 12, 2023
The Broadway version of Beetlejuice celebrated its final show in NYC with a TBT post highlighting the ups and downs of its run:
Hey guys? Love you guys. 🥺 As our show about death comes to a close, we're dedicating this #TBT to some of our favorite #BeetlejuiceBway moments. pic.twitter.com/lEtr7TqBDi
— Beetlejuice on Broadway (@BeetlejuiceBway) January 5, 2023
The House of Blues took it a step further and paid tribute to the late rapper DMX, sharing a clip from his final show at their venue to mark what would have been his 52nd birthday:
In honor of DMX’s birthday on Sunday, we got a BIG #tbt when he played his last Chicago show at House of Blues on May 4, 2019! ❤️ 🖤
RIP a rap icon, hip-hop legend and Ruff Ryder, @DMX 🙏🐕🦺 pic.twitter.com/VVhCogsyrY
— House of Blues Chicago (@HOBChicago) December 15, 2022
5. Share an old product
Throwback Thursday is also great to show how far you’ve come as a brand by sharing your original products. Just make sure your post is clearly labeled as being from the past, so you don’t confuse your audience!
The London-based recumbent bicycle brand Brompton demonstrated just how long they’ve been in the game with this post of their 1977 model, The Fold:
#TBT to our awkward pre teenage years! The Fold from 1977! #MyBrompton #MadeForCities pic.twitter.com/NRAU9DKqJ6
— Brompton Bicycle (@BromptonBicycle) June 29, 2021
Archie Comics went even more retro, using Throwback Thursday as an opportunity to showcase an old comic book from the late 1950s:
Since it's #ThrowbackThursday, let's travel back to the 1950s for some #KatyKeene fashion fun! pic.twitter.com/YCStUBaWSO
— Archie Comics (@ArchieComics) January 12, 2023
BMW uses its BMW Classic account to highlight its history of beautiful automobiles. Here’s a post that uses the #ThrowbackThursday hashtag well:
#TBT The original 747 soars high above Mount Rainier in Washington state in 1974. 🛫 Though production is ending on the 747, the first jumbo jet’s legacy will endure for decades.
Explore seven 747 innovations that changed the industry: https://t.co/bKHKETd9Nq pic.twitter.com/WRV4LWxZ9h
— The Boeing Company (@Boeing) January 5, 2023
Shark Tank host Daymond John doesn’t need to link out anywhere. Instead, he uses his TBT to make a point about physical advertising with a photo of a FUBU billboard from back in the day:
These days a lot of brands are fixated on their digital presence. For good reason, but studies are also showing that, post-covid, people are highly receptive to physical ads. That's not to say you need a billboard, but remember to think outside the phone!#TBT #FUBU pic.twitter.com/2D0ftmf9VT
— Daymond John (@TheSharkDaymond) August 11, 2022
Arnold Schwarzenegger leans into his status as a walking meme with these comical old pics of his former fitness pamphlets. But it’s part of a bigger campaign because it points to a new fitness ebook available in his bio:
View this post on Instagram
Throwback Thursday best practices
Ready to start creating your own TBT posts? Just keep these tips in mind.
Post on a Thursday
It goes without saying that you should do the Thursday hashtag on, well, the actual day in its title. If your audience spans multiple time zones, try posting early in the morning to ensure you’re not showing up too late to the party. It varies from app to app, but we suggest you post on Instagram between 9 a.m. and noon.
Use the hashtags
If you’re going to participate in the hashtag, you have to use the hashtag! While it’s true that social media sites have adapted to use context clues and captions in searches, you still want your post to show up on the clickable tag. Don’t be shy! Use both #TBT and #ThrowbackThursday.
Share old content
Again, it might seem obvious, but it bears repeating. The whole point of Throwback Thursday is to throw it back to something from the past. Make sure your posts include old content. And make sure it’s clear that the content is old — you don’t want to confuse users into thinking a product you no longer have available has come back.
Have a plan
Some clever copywriting can make TBT an integral part of your marketing plan. Maybe you’re about to launch your latest fashion line — why not point to it by throwing back to your first-ever launch? These kinds of benchmarks will help highlight just how far you’ve come as a brand.
The fastest way to create your own Throwback Thursday post
If you’re looking for a TBT shortcut, Hootsuite’s got you covered.
Our Content Inspiration tab is a handy resource that helps you create posts in record time. (We recommend bookmarking it whether you’re looking for a post template for Throwback Thursday or something else entirely.)
Just follow these steps:
1. Navigate to the Content Inspiration tab. Make sure you’re logged into your Hootsuite account.
2. Click into the Throwback Thursday idea. This will offer an overview of the concept.
3. (Optional) Click More about this idea. The dropdown menu will offer plenty of thought-starters to inspire your TBT.
4. Click Use this idea. You’ll be able to complete your Throwback Thursday post without even leaving the Hootsuite dashboard.
5. Update your imagery. You can add multiple pics, or use our cool cassette graphic.
6. Customize your caption. Use the prompts as a starting point to make it your own. In addition to #ThrowbackThursday and #TBT, add a couple of hashtags that relate to your topic.
7. Publish your post. Hootsuite saves all of your social accounts once you’ve connected them, so you can easily choose from the dropdown menu.
With Hootsuite you can set up streams to monitor hashtags—including #TBT—and see how effectively you’re using them. Try it free today.
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