It’s very helpful to follow tweets about a specific topic, and finding tweets related to a topic. That’s what hashtags are all about, an easy way to find and categorize tweets. Hashtags are words on Twitter with the symbol # in front of it, like #marketing, #ebook or #iphone.
I think that the easiest way to understand the use of hashtags on Twitter, is to relate it to how tags are used on blogs. For instance, at the bottom of this post, you can click on the word Twitter. If you do, you’ll get a list of all my blog posts related to Twitter. In my sidebar, you have all my most popular tags. If you click on one of the tags, you’ll get a list of all my blog posts related to that particular word.
There are a few ways to discover new hashtags on Twitter:
The easiest way is probably to use the new and improved Twitter search. You can either search for a topic, or you can click on the various popular hashtags just below the search form.
advanced Twitter Search to discover hashtags, or just use the regular Twitter Search and put the # symbol in front of your word. This way you’ll discover if people are using it already, and how popular it is.
Even though I believe that Twitter search is good enough when it comes to hashtags, there are many directories and tools you can use, here are just a few:
Now, how could you use hashtags for marketing purposes?
To get more followers and more people to read your tweets
I’m not doing this, but you could use popular hashtags in order to get new followers. If you use Twitter Search and look at the popular topics, you could use them as hashtags in order to get more people to see your tweets. For instance, at the moment you could publish a tweet about Jay-Z, Iran or G20, and more people would see your tweets and hopefully follow you.
On the other hand, I believe it’s more powerful to target the right people instead of popular topics. Only use hashtags if it adds value to the topic.
To target people with your tweets
When you publish a tweet in a certain topic, without using the words of the topic in your tweet, your followers might be the only people reading it. If you add a hashtag to your tweet, more people will most likely read it. For instance, if you are writing about Facebook, you should add the word #facebook to your tweet, because a lot of people search for Facebook on Twitter. If you’re managing a restaurant, you could add some nice recipes to Twitter and use the hashtag #tastytuesday – this way a lot more people will find it (because they’re looking for new recipes by using the hashtag).
To create an archive of your most important tweets
Sometimes you might want to create your own hashtags, if you do, you can create an archive of your tweets. If you’re writing an ebook, and you use the name of the ebook as your hashtag, you can follow your own tweets as a timeline. This way, other people can follow your ebook progress as well. They can subscribe to your hashtag and filter tweets related to that tag.
To follow a live event
If you create a hashtag for your event, it’s easy to follow the event on Twitter. People can ask question, and use Twitter for conversations during the event. This happened at a conference I was attending about six months ago. They created the hashtag before the event started, and questions and experiences from the event continued all along the event on a big screen. It was interesting to follow the conversation, and see what other people were thinking about the conference during the conference (and not just by reading the evaluation afterwords).