Posted by Craig Kanalley | Posted in Tips | Posted on 05-07-2009
Want to reach a larger audience than just your followers?
Use #hashtags in your tweets.
What am I talking about? Taken from the Jargon page here at TwitterJournalism.com:
# – The hashtag can be used before any word or abbreviation on Twitter to make it easier for others to find who are interested in the same topic. It is commonly used at major events and conferences, as well as at times of breaking news (example: #Obama, #Iran).
Why limit yourself when your tweets can be indexed by a few keywords that people may be searching? Every tweet you send, when it’s about news of some kind, should include at least one hashtag.
Hashtags have been around on Twitter for a long time. At one time, their most popular use was to conduct chats. People would include #JournChat for instance in their tweet and then could follow along. Hashtags are also commonly used at events or special conferences as a way to group tweets.
The use of hashtags has also evolved. Today they’re primarily used as a means to index tweets related to a specific topic. The recently-revamped Web site Hashtags.org provides one way to page through these topics, displaying them through filters like trending topics, new ones, those certain people are discussing, and more.
Far too often, journalists forget to use hashtags during major breaking news. I’ve personally seen journalists posting breaking news on Iran for instance, in the last few weeks, who haven’t used the popular #IranElection hashtag. It’s cutting into their audience, as people are always searching for the latest #IranElection tweets.
CNN Breaking News long posted without them, but they too recently discovered hashtags. A few recent @cnnbrk tweets:
Hashtags increase the likelihood of people seeing your tweets and therefore of your tweets getting retweeted. When they do get retweeted, they also keep your tweet circulating in the Twitter index and make it more likely for even more people to see it.
It’s a no-brainer to use hashtags. The question is how do you know the best hashtag(s) to use? I’ll address this in a later post.