Hashing out the proper use of Twitter #

 

If you’re like me, you’re using Twitter more and more to get the word out about what’s happening at your company and to broadcast the latest news and information that may be of value to your followers.

One of the best ways to categorize your tweets and make them more searchable is by using hashtags. Hashtags are keywords preceded by a hash symbol that make them both searchable and linkable on Twitter.

Twitter describes hashtags as “themes” for your tweets. When Twitter users include hashtags in their tweets they are intentionally assigning a unique theme to that tweet, and linking it to all other tweets containing that same hashtag. They are also assuming that other users who are interested in that topic will search for that theme.

Here are six reasons to use hashtags:

1. Search for information.

Let’s say you’re searching Twitter for the latest mobile trends. You could just type the phrase “mobile trends” in Twitter’s search field and you’ll get plenty of results. But if you search the hashtag #mobiletrends instead you’ll find that #mobiletrends is actually a clickable link. Now if you click the hashtag in any tweet, you’ll see a live feed of every tweet that has that hashtag in it.

2. Keep track of communities.

Many online communities are using hashtags to keep track of ongoing conversations within their group.

3. Run contests.

If you’re running a contest online, you can craft a has tag to keep track of contest participants. By monitoring search results for those entering, you can keep track of who is actively engaging with your brand and who is not.

4. Encourage participation in a discussion.

For instance, Twitter users are adding hashtags to keywords like #Twitter in order to keep track of helpful tips being shared that pertain to Twitter.

5. Start a Twitter Chat.

When a hashtag is used to identify tweets on a given topic that occur at the same time every week, it’s know as a Twitter Chat. By using a hashtag, participants in the chat don’t have to waste valuable characters explaining what the chat is about.

6. Have fun.

One of the most popular uses of hashtags is to have fun. For example, you can add an ironic hashtag at the end of your tweet like #ICan’tBelieveWhatJust Happened, for instance.

Of course you should try to follow hashtag etiquette:

  • Don’t over-tag a single Tweet. The rule of thumb is to use no more than 3 hashtags per tweet.
  • Use hashtags only on tweets relevant to your topic.
  • Don’t use long hashtags, like an entire sentence.
  • Don’t create hashtags that no one can decipher, but you.

How are you using hashtags? Share your Twitter secrets with us.

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