As a Twitter instructor, I get lots of questions, especially about hashtags. Some deal with how to market more effectively on Twitter. Others address operational issues like how often to tweet or when to follow someone. However, one question comes up far more often than any other.
“What’s a hashtag?”
It’s a valid question, especially for Twitter newbies. Unlike tweet or follow or trending, the word hashtag didn’t exist until Twitter coined it. And whenever a tweet is displayed – on newscasts, in blog posts, on websites, etc. – no one ever explains what the hashtags mean.
A hashtag is the hash symbol (#) followed by a word or phrase within a Twitter post.
The hashtag here is #twitter. Once that message was posted, Twitter immediately indexed it with all other posts that ever included the hashtag #twitter. Take a look.
Now don’t think Twitter only collates tweets about itself. Amazingly, the platform creates pages for every hashtag ever used. Here’s one for hot dog sandwiches.
Of course, after eating a few of those, you may want to visit this page.
More than any other social media platform, Twitter fosters conversation. However, it does much more than that. It creates rooms (pages, actually) where people can gather to discuss a certain topic. Hashtags get you into those rooms. Once you’re there, the benefits are enormous.
Hashtags broaden your audience. Your Twitter business account may have thousands of followers. That’s a fraction of the people who could see your posts on topical pages like #Twitter or #marketing or #YourProductHere. And the more people who see your messages, the more likely you will gain respect and add followers.
Hashtags put you in the conversation. You have knowledge about the product or service you market. When people search out information about that topic, you want to be in that conversation, to be seen as someone knowledgeable and helpful.
Hashtags position you as an industry leader. It’s one thing to be in the conversation; it’s quite another to be seen as a leading authority on a subject. Requirements include frequent posts, intriguing content and relevant messages. It takes time and diligence, but the rewards are considerable.
Hashtags help you network. Hashtags puts you in rooms with people of similar interests. Some may be able help you advance your business. Others may take note of you and strike up a business relationship or follow your account. Twitter, like LinkedIn, is a great networking tool.
Hashtags are important, but it’s also important to know how to use them. And trust me, they are often misused. I’ll cover hashtag etiquette in my next post.
Rhonda Serkes offers one-on-one instruction and corporate seminars on the power of Twitter. Known as “The Twitter Lady” in the Philadelphia area, she is also available for online instruction. For rates and availabilities, email [email protected] or call (610) 668-3020.
Follow Rhonda on Twitter @rhondaserkes.