Sunday, December 13, 2009

How to Use Twitter Hashtags

The Twitter fail whale error message.

Image via Wikipedia

If you want to find current references, events, and other information, there’s nothing more useful than using Twitter hashtags. This is a clever tool, but you must be clever to squeeze the maximum benefit out of it.

Here are a few basic tips:
Just what is a hashtag?
The pound symbol: #, is usually referred to as the pound symbol. Another name for it is the “Hash” symbol. A hashtag is any word, phrase, or series of letters and numbers which is preceded by a #. For example: #writing, is a hashstag that I can use to search for references to ‘writing.’ When I enter ‘#writing’ in the Twitter search box, I will get a new screen with “Real time results for #writing,” followed by what people are tweeting on the topic ‘writing.’

So, a hashtag is a keyword and it is denoted on Twitter like this: #hashtaghere. For the novice, keywords are the words people type in search boxes when they look a particular piece of information.

Why are these hashtags important?
To begin with, you can find people with the same interests you have; and even if you don’t have the same interest you can still send messages to particular groups. For example, if you want to sell an e-book, let’s say, How to Babysit Toddlers and Teeny-bopperss, you can hashtag ‘#day time moms.’ Right there you have a huge list of mom’s who might be interested in your product. Of course, if you are a good marketer you might wish to form relationships with those prospects first. Follow them, send them direct messages, gain their trust, and eventually they could become your customer.

Whatever happened to cold-calling?
Twitter has dismantled the old fashioned call-calling. Sales managers now train their sales force in using Twitter; especially how get fresh leads by using hashtags. Hashtag it to cold calling what the automobile was to the horse-buggy. Street-by-street prospecting has also been rendered obsolete. Hashtags are great when searching for events, conferences, or meet-ups. Searching for the proper #hashtag, allows you to keep up with what people are saying right there—on live streaming.

Google search vs Twitter search
They both work basically in the same manner. In google you must narrow your search by using quotation marks (“xyz”) around your keywords. In Twitter the hashmark #, will do the job. The huge difference is that Twitter is a dynamic search that’ll give your results of people who are twittering right that moment. You can’t beat it.

Teaching
All my students must follow me in Twitter. I let them know about my whereabouts, my office hours (if they change), homework, solutions, extra credit work, my latest article, stories, and many others chores. And if that wasn’t enough, they can discuss my lectures, and those who were absent will benefit by joining in.

Age of Aquarius vs Age of Twitter
I have heard people say that the Age of Aquarius would bring splendor to mankind. Well, it seems that if the splendor isn’t yet here—digitation is. And with it a new age: the age of Twitter.
The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


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