How to use Twitter (even) more effectively - The gist on hashtags
By Emily Hutto
Don't just use hashtags. Do some research first.
Yesterday, one of our esteemed social media bloggers, Amy Mcllwain, published "35 Twitter hashtags for financial professionals." Her message: Don't just tweet; instead use hashtags to connect you with industry trends and other influential online content creators.
My message: Don't just use hashtags; do some research first. The following can help to make your tweets and hashtags as useful as possible.
Consider your audience
Who are you talking to on Twitter? Like any other social media networking site, Twitter is meant to cultivate conversations. Decide who you want to converse with before you send out your 140 characters. Do you want to connect with potential clients? With industry leaders? With media about the industry? All of the above? Decide who you want mentioning (@) and re-tweeting (RT @) you, and choose your hashtags accordingly.
Audience is important in hashtag overlap situations, as I like to call them. Say, for example, you are tweeting about long-term care insurance (#LTCI), but you notice that long-term care (#LTC) is also a popular hashtag. If you know who you want to connect with, you might be inclined to use one hashtag or the other.
Think about trends
Mcllwain identifies some of the top hashtags that insurance providers should use. Beyond her comprehensive list, think about politics, social movements and even pop culture. You'll be amazed at how many more users interact with you by using hashtags like #PPACA and #election2012. If you're wondering if a subject already has a hashtag associated with it, choose #Discover at the top of your Twitter page and type your topic in the search field. You'll get up-to-date information about what's trending on the site.
Monitor those trends
If you're covering #PPACA or #election2012 and you want to keep a record of what everyone else on Twitter is saying about the hashtag, you should use a program like TweetDeck. It allows you to search for a hashtag and then create a feed of everything that comes up about that particular topic. (You can also create feeds for individual users and interactions that you have.)
Start your own campaign
If you search a hashtag that isn't established as a trend, you might consider starting it yourself. Use the hashtag often and encourage your followers to do the same. Then use the same hashtag on your Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and even your blog.
It's difficult to get a new hashtag campaign to catch on, so be sure that you use a hashtag that is short and to the point (i.e. use #LTCI instead of #longtermcareinsurance), come up with something catchy so that your followers remember it and be sure that via tweets, blogging and other networks you make it clear to your followers exactly how you want it to be used.
Hold your horses, hashtagger
It's tough to read tweets that consist only of links and hashtags. #Don't #hashtag #every #single #word #in #your #tweet. Be sure there is a balance among those 140 characters.
Thanks to Amy Mcllwain for the continued conversation about how to best use our social media networks. What hashtags do you use in your tweets?