Tweets in 10 (Part 3) – Hashtag Like a Pro

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on December 13, 2010 in: Twitter Tips & Tools

In the ebook, we talked about hashtags briefly but now let’s talk about hashtags in detail. The reason I made this a separate document is because I feel it is a more advanced topic and one you should not really focus on in your early days of Twitter. Hashtags will only work once you have some clout or presence on Twitter. However, feel free to participate with existing hashtag items early on.

Refresher on hashtags: Hashtags are terms that give people some context to your tweet. Rather than using up all 140 characters on additional sentences to explain something, hashtags add information that will help people understand what you are tweeting. For example, a common hashtag is the shortform of the city you are in. So if you are visiting New York City, you don’t have to write: “I love it here in New York City”… instead, you can write: “I love it here #nyc”. It’s shorter and provides the same information. Hashtags deliver a little extra detail.

Hashtags…

  • Give geographic locations (as we’ve seen in the example above)
  • Indicate your participation in an activity or group (we’ll see some examples of that below)
  • Add details, context, and additional information
  • Alert people to the reason you are tweeting
  • … and more

So let’s talk about current hashtags that exist:

Online Chat

Online ‘chats’ are the concept of tweeting in real time with a group of people using a #hashtag. This allows you to communicate as if you are all in the same room (so to speak); you can then monitor the conversation on search.twitter.com by monitoring the hashtag.

#blogchat This is an online chat and held every Sunday Night from 8pm to 9pm Central by Mack Collier to discuss all things blogging and blog related (technologies, skills, best practices etc.)

#journchat This is an online chat and held every Monday Night from 7pm to 10pm central and is targeted to journalists, PR people, bloggers and anyone in the media industry. This chat is run by Sarah Evans.

There are TONS more – just keep your eye out for that ‘# sign’ to discover more.

Reference Hashtags

#VATip is used by people who want to suggest things that VA’s (Virtual Assistants) can do for their clients.

#freelancetip is used by people who want to suggest tools, ideas and best practices for freelancers.

#dailygoals or #tdg (shortner = track daily goals) is used by people who keep their ‘to do lists’ on twitter.

#quote is used when you are listing a quote. Sometimes #qotd (“quote of the day”) is also used.

Again these are just a sample of some of the hashtags used as references.

Events

Now let’s talk about events. Event-related hashtags are frequently used prior to the event to announce the event and then keep people up-to-date on details (location, time, speakers, changes). During the event, people will often use the hashtag to live-tweet the event itself.

#blogher10 was an event in August 2010 where bloggers got together to share ideas and meet face-to-face. Note that the “10” indicates the year. The 2011 BlogHer conference will likely use the hashtag #blogher11.

#sxsw is a popular annual music and media conference, and one of the places where Twitter first became popular.

There is so much more

Online chat, references, and events are just the beginning. Using hashtags like #ff for FollowFriday is a popular way to refer friends and followers to others. Another way to use hashtags is for your brand. The shoe company Zappos does this with their hashtag #zappos, while more and more brands are realizing the importance of using a hashtag when mentioning their company’s name. Hashtags are useful things for just about every tweet to help your followers read your mind… whether you’re telling a #joke, buying a #car, drinking a #coffee, about to go on a #sales call. Adding hashtags make your tweets more useful.

How you can use them

Hashtags are useful for you in several ways:

  1. The most basic and obvious way is to use hashtags to help your followers understand what you are talking about. Rather than tweeting something without any context, add hashtags to every tweet and show them exactly what you mean.
  2. Another great use of hashtags is to indicate that you are participating in an event or group. If you’re taking part in a convention or an online group chat, this shows people that you are a part of it. Other participants may acknowledge you and include you. Who knows, you might be able to more effectively network as a result!
  3. Another great way to use hashtags is to brand your business. If you have valuable information to share, add a hashtag with your business’ name. Maybe you like to tweet tips or pithy quotes. Or maybe you’re building up a knowledge base of ideas in 140 characters. Adding a hashtag to those tweets will help to establish you as the business to which those things are associated.
  4. If you want to get your name out there as a leading thinker in topics people are talking about, watch for trending hashtags and tweet something relevant with those hashtags. (Note: be careful that you don’t simply add irrelevant hashtags to your tweets. Make sure you have something to contribute).
  5. A fifth way to benefit from hashtags is through business research. Search relevant hashtags at http://search.twitter.com or www.wthashtag.com to see what hashtags people are using and how they are using them. This might help you uncover an entire niche of potential clients or a need your business can serve. See what people are saying about you and about your competition.

Hashtags are very useful tools that you should eventually include in many of your tweets. While it still might be a little early in your Twitter experience to include them as frequently right now, this document has given you everything you need to know and now you can watch to see how others are using them… and start using them yourself!

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I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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