I Scream Social: Hashtags — Twitter’s secret decoder ringWritten by Kevin Cesarz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter’s great as a listening tool to discover great ideas from others, and as a talking tool to share your message efficiently. How do you focus your message? Use Twitter hashtags like a headline. With only 140 characters, a hashtag summarizes your idea.
Hashtags filter your message for curators with a simple pound (#) symbol. Use #hashtags like #webwriting, #nptalk, #startrek, #tcot, #detroit to focus followers on a topic that they might be tracking. Hashtags are great to mark keywords or identify your ideas for likeminded people. Use the hashtag symbol before relevant keywords to categorize those Tweets so that they’ll show more easily in Twitter’s powerful search.
Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category.
Hashtags can occur anywhere in your message, but are better used toward the beginning of a tweet. Some text-shorteners (Twitzer) will cut off hashtags near the end of tweets.
Don’t just use hashtags willy-nilly. That’s like #spam #with #hashtags.
Don’t over-hashtag a single Tweet. Limit yourself to two or three hashtags per Tweet.
Use a broad tag with a narrower tag. #baseball will help you eventually join the conversation on #reds
Use only relevant hashtags. Don’t mashtag and litter a Twitter status with an epic array of unnecessary tags. You’re limited to 140 characters. Your followers will ultimately decide if you are the preferred curator of this topic.
Apply hashtags to any search or conversation effort on Twitter. What’s a practical application of a hashtag. Say that you’re a charity trying to get the word out about your nonprofit or fundraising effort.
Use popular Twitter #nonprofit hashtags, create your own branded hashtags (#mycharity), double-up on hashtags (#nonprofits and #nptech), and localize (tell ’em where your located — #toledo).
Replace the word nonprofit in a tweet with #nonprofit.
Build your tribe with #FollowFriday. Highlight other nonprofit organizations and show appreciation to contributors.
Follow #fundraising trends including #nptech
Ready for an event? Set your hashtags (#[event] and [campaign]). Make your group aware of the hashtags and consistently use them. Make sure that you produce a few tweets that explain what your hashtag means. Example: Toledo’s #exclaim http://bit.ly/22XXaa is a yearly music festival — join us #nonprofit.
Don’t forget to localize your event: #exclaim2011 set for #toledo
#volunteer[s] follow the call — call them with the hashtag.
Discover a Twitter chat,
build innovation and creativity with other nonprofit teams. Find groups of people crowdsourcing ideas by attending a Twitter chat (all times Eastern). Just follow the hashtag at the correct time.
#smNPchat — small nonprofits (Host is Pamela Grow; every other Friday, noon-1 p.m.)
#nptalk — nonprofit talk (Host is Nicole Harrison; every Wednesday, 3-4 p.m.)
#ynpchat – young nonprofit professionals (Host: Rosetta Thurman; first Wednesday of each month, 4-5 p.m.)
Twitter is like the diet strategy that calls for eating smaller meals more often. Use Twitter, hashtags and Twitter search to find and share your passion with others. If you find any fantastically fruitful hashtags share them with me at @kcesarz or @threadgroup.
Kevin Cesarz is director of social media and Web project manager at Thread Marketing Group in Maumee (www.threadgroup.com). Read more about social media and content strategy on his blog i scream social (klcesarz.wordpress.com).