How to use a hashtagIf you’ve ever been on Twitter for more than 2 minutes, you probably know what a hashtag is.

Just in case you don’t: a hashtag is a word with a # symbol in front of it and it’s used to categorise and group conversations that are happening on micro blogging services such as Twitter.

Using hashtags can help your tweet get more attention, retweets and clicks and even help you build followers.

But there is a problem.

According to this research from social media management software provider Argyle Social many marketing professionals use hashtags ineffectively.

In the research they analysed more than 37,000 total tweets from 103 Twitter business accounts. They found out that some companies got much more clicks from their tweets containing hashtags than others.

Using hashtags: what doesn’t work?

Hashtags do not work when the words you use are too generic. Too broad. For example, the research shows that hashtags like #socialmedia, #business, #sales or #crm are too generic. People are not following these because there is too much ‘noise’ to filter out.

The same goes for hashtags like #superbowl or hashtags from large conferences like #adtech or #sxsw, because these hashtags fly by quicker than anyone can read.

Using hashtags: what does work?

Hashtags need to be relevant, targeted and occur naturally in the conversation. Think for instance of:

  • Moderately sized conferences and lectures: e.g. #iabceme, #MP2011
  • Causes: e.g. #haiti, #giveasmile
  • Highly engaged groups: e.g. #crisiscompit, #glutenfree, #oilspill
  • Create your own: e.g. #nerdbird, #blogchat

Key insight for marketers, PRs and business communicators when using hashtags

On the social web you need to get much more targeted than you were used to in mass communications. It’s not about reaching many people. It’s about reaching the people who really want to hear what you have to say and will share it with their peers.

To do that you have to think specifically about what exactly people are interested in. What are the most relevant hashtags about the topic you have to offer. Then create the right hashtag or combinations of hashtags, that will get the right message to the right audience.

Happy #hashtagging!

getting started on TwitterFor newbees Twitter always seems like the most mystical social media channel. What is it? How does it work? How do I get followers? How do I know what to tweet about?

In the last year I have written quite a few posts about Twitter that answer questions like the above.

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Below you’ll find a presentation by Dan Zarrella. The presentation contains data drawn from ‘The Science of ReTweet Report’ in which Dan analyzes the when, why and how Twitter users ReTweet. You can download the full report here.

So what is important? How do you get your content shared via Twitter? How do you get ReTweeted?

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Unfollow inactive Twitter accountsAccording to a survey by RJMetrics, core Twitter users are very committed users, but interestingly, more than 80% of Twitter accounts are inactive.

So the chances are that you have quite a few inactive Twitter accounts in your Twitter following.

My view: they ain’t doing you any good. Might as well get rid of them!

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Many people I know get their own personal Twitter channel because their employer has set one up for their company. It’s a great way in to start getting familiar with what it’s all about.

When we help clients become effective in social media we develop editorial plans for them – a plan of which content you need to publish to reach your business, marketing, PR or communications objectives.

But what if you want to start up a Twitter channel for yourself? What do you tweet about then?! Well, unless you are trying to set up your own business, you don’t need an editorial plan.

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You have probably noticed that you can integrate your Twitter account into your Linkedin profile. This means you can post your tweets in your LinkedIn profile.

If you choose to integrate your Twitter and Linkedin accounts, you have two choices:

1. Share all your tweets in your Linkedin status

2. Add the ‘#in’ hashtag to share only specific tweets

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So, you’ve got yourself a Twitter account, you have figured out what you need to be Tweeting about and you are doing it. Everything feels good.

But as a marketer you want something more tangible than just a feeling. What about clickthrough? If you know the number of clicks that each of your Tweets generates, you can figure out what your people really value – and do more of it!

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As a brand you are probably already on Twitter, or you are thinking of it.

When you do, make sure you know what your consumers expect from you. Honestly, they don’t want to know what you have had for breakfast, when your next meeting is, or what time you are leaving the office.

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I recently came across a post on Hubspot called ‘9 Worst Ways to Use Twitter for Business’. The #1 Worst Way in this Hubspot blog post is ‘Be Overly Self-Promotional’. That’s a great insight. Most businesses are just so used to promoting their stuff that it’s not easy to switch their head-set to a more ‘social’ approach.

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Finding people to follow on Twitter can be a bit daunting at first. There are so many different directories and tools it can take you forever to get to know them all. So, here’s a few of my favourite tools, and a couple of tips on how to make the most of them.

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