Hashtags should be a powerful means of grouping people together so that those that are similar in some specific way can find each other. Unfortunately this usually doesn’t work as well as it could. I’m going to discuss some ways in which they work and ways in which they don’t. There are benefits of social media marketing if you use them properly.
Subject matter hashtags
These are the ones that work best, and offer an immediate way to join a conversation on a subject that’s bang up to date. This doesn’t work so well for marketers looking for customers, because most customers won’t add a hashtag for what they’re looking for, and the most useful tweets to find from them typically have no hashtags or links in. Nevertheless, marketers can search a tagged group to find out what sort of tweets the competition are using and get ideas of their own. You might want to think of some creative way to tap into the potential market of a trending tag, sites like WhatTheTrend It’s should give you some ideas, most of these won’t have sales potential, but with a little patience, you might find one that fits. Then use a twitter client to scan the time-line and @potentialcustomers individually with pre-typed messages. Twubs is another useful site to get a better sense of a hashtag and how it’s used. It’ll show the time-line, pictures, related tags, and top contributors. This is a useful place to research potential marketing hashtags. It’s also worth searching for any hashtags that aren’t obviously going to have popular streams, you might find that no-one uses them.
You can use hashtags to advertise that you follow back with popular tags like #followback, #ifollowback and #instantfollowback. You could also use them be promote other users that follow back, which is a lot more meaningful than the typical promotion tags used like #follow and #FF. But be aware that a lot of people tagged with this won’t actually follow back, some people only follow a few people so their stream remains interesting and relevant to them, these are often people that use Twitter mostly for tweet socialising. This is annoying, especially when these people could just list those they want to follow and can watch the list time-line in a client like TweetDeck. Nevertheless I’ve tried this tactic, and it works.
A lot of people seem to want to start their own Twitter groups, annoyingly these are often either pointless groups without any stated purpose other than allow some person to say ‘founder of …’. Some groups are a lot better though. #TeamFollowBack is very useful, it has a clear strategy and a website that explains it, plus it can be shortened to #TFB to reduce your character usage. I can say from experience that following people in this group can build your followers fast, even if some of them only claim to follow back. Furthermore, a massive number of people use this group, the time-line is posted on several times a minutes, and a good 30 or 40 or them have over 20,000 users, which suggests it works for them. I add #TFB to relevant posts, such as when I offer promotion, or mention following back, and I can check that this works, because sometimes I view the profiles of people that follow me back, and a decent number of them are #TFB.
The problem with certain popular hashtags
I don’t use certain popular tags like #FollowFriday (#FF) and #grateful. The former might be a way of telling the people in question that you value them and think others should follow them, but so many people use #FollowFriday, now on any day of the week, that the odds of other people searching for that tag and finding you are remote. This wouldn’t be a very good tactic in any case, because all sorts of people are tagged with it, so searching for it won’t provide targeted followers, just a random mix up.
In the case of #grateful, this is a good example of a tag that’s unnecessarily long. You might be able to get more than 140 characters with Twitzer text or other such services, but tags only work for the first 140 characters, and every one should count. Therefore why not just use #TY instead? It conveys the same message.
A note about hashtags that won’t be found in searches
For people that use Twitzer text shortner , be aware that you need to put the tags at the beginning or middle of the Twitter posts, because if they’re part of the extra text, they won’t be found by searches. The Twitzer link created will actually cut off hashtags that would’ve been in its place and move them to the expanded version, so a twitzered text actually has less room for tags that work. This also applies to automatic updates of blog posts on your Twitter pages, if you decide to affix them with tags, be sure to put them at the beginning. This is a bit annoying because its customary to put the tags at the end or perhaps mix them in with the text if they fit.