Beginners social media for business: Hashtags

The hashtag is a Twitter function that allows users to “tag” or label tweets with a keyword or phrase.

The hash or pound key (# — typically Shift+3 on your keyboard)  automatically makes the following text up to the space become a link — so if you want to use a phrase as a hash tag, you have to use no spaces #muchlikethis.

What is it for?

Well, the general reason is to find similar content, which can often be about making twitter fun — and if it is a popular enough concept (or if a celebrity with a huge following jumps on it), it may become a trending topic.

An example? #hatsinsongs Now, that’s not a real example, but it wouldn’t matter because usually those kind of tags come and go within hours, so by the time you read this, it would be over. A hashtag like that gets twitter users to rack their brains for obscure songs with hats in the lyrics. It’s for no reason other than to be creative with a large group of people from all over the world — and anyone can jump in.

I’ll also give you an example that we use regularly: #naturalhealth (see: https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23naturalhealth to view results).

Why do it?

It’s a way to reach people who happen to be looking for content on a specific topic. Because it becomes a link to all the other recent posts with that hashtag, it makes it easy for someone reading one tweet to find others like it.

If a particular user comes up quite often for that topic, or is tweeting interesting and relevant content, people will follow them.

My advice?

Use hashtags that are used a few times an hour – not the crazy busy ones that go by too quickly (like #green which has multiple tweets per second).

If you are an industry influencer, you can make a hashtag happen. You can pick a phrase that hardly anyone is using and get other industry types to use it as well — mostly just by wanting to be relevant to your postings.

Check the hashtag search regularly. Sometimes tags get hijacked by spammers and are rendered useless as a result. Use a tool like TweetDeck that helps you keep a feed of that hashtag at your fingertips.

We also find that it is a helpful way to find relevant content to re-tweet, furthering your connections and goodwill.

That’s it for today!
Gisela