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Social Media Tips: How Hashtags in Twitter Helps You Find People and Topics

Hashtags. Hashtags. Roily Polly Hashtags
Hashtags. Hashtags. Tweet them up…Yum!

Ok, so a play on the Barnes and Barnes song “Fishhead” is an odd match for this topic (I admit I still fondly remember the song playing on Saturday Night Live when I was a kid), but people can feel the same way towards hashtags as they may when listening to the surreal lyrics…a mishmash of thoughts that can be hard to understand. But read the following and gain crystal-quality clarity on what hashtags are for.

Twitter Hashtag example
Use Hashtags to broaden exposure on Twitter

A quick recap: Hashtags are placed in front of a word as a search anchor, permitting Twitter users to find conversation topics and discover other users.

Some people like to use them and some people prefer not. Either way, hashtags have become more essential as more people turn to social media for real time results.

Businesses are also seeing customers enter a purchasing funnel through social media, as reported by eMarketer.

Hashtags can be started by anyone, but finding established hashtags may be best to gain response. Here are a few ideas to find networks.

Find a hashtag for a location of preference. You can retweet a few times with different hashtags. For example a tweet with #chicago can be followed with a tweet for #nwi (#nwi is typically used for Northwest Indiana, communities in the chicagoland area). But the number of tweet should be scheduled out with an app such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. Tweeters typically do not like to see a long stream of retweets every few minutes. I’ve experimented with hourly and 1/2 hour post with minimal problems.

Find a hashtag for an expo or convention. Tweet out comments when possible. It makes it easy to meet other followers, and may lead to many opportunities not considered.

Industry groups follow a hash tag. Digital analytics professionals, for example, use #measure or #msure to share news with each other as well as communicate. Find out from your professional organization (or even better, start one!).

TV programs such as Bethenny are showing the value of hashtags, displaying them in the corner of the screen for people using a smartphone or tablet while watching TV. Bethenny takes Twitter influence even further – in this image, she is highlight an audience member who follows her Twitter acount.

Follow a Twitter stream to not only view a hashtag usage, but to also potentially discover others, since some tweets contain more than one. Type in a hashtag in Twitter search to display a stream of hashtags. In addition, many apps like Hootsuite permit users to click on the hashtag in a tweet and view a steam of hashtag-related tweets. Hashtag.org provides a listing of hashtags, displaying trend information as well. Another source is tagdef.com, which provide wikipedia-style definitions submitted by Twitter users.

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