Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Power of the #Hashtag

Last weekend was a major event for us Mormons. Those of you that aren't, bear with me, because what I have to say about that weekend will make a difference to you and how you promote your business.

So, last weekend was what we call "General Conference Weekend". It's two days of hearing speeches in big meetings (totalling about 10 hours) from our church leaders. It happens every six months and, in our culture, it's a big deal.

In recent years, an interesting cultural phenomenon has occurred, called "live tweeting", where members who are watching or attending the conference sessions post their favorite thoughts and quotes in real-time as they hear them, either on facebook, twitter, or both. Other members then watch for those quotes and share their thoughts. It becomes a running commentary on the proceedings.

Here's why that's important to anyone else: It's all tracked by a single "hashtag". For the uninitiated, a hastag is a short string of characters that immediately follow the "#" sign in a twitter post (Facebook, now, too). What good is it? Why is it there? It's to allow others to find your post by using Twitter's search function. By searching for the the right hashtag phrase, a reader can peruse all of the tweets about a given topic. In this case, those livetweeting general conference were using the now-traditional: "#ldsconf" hashtag.

I had a lot of fun this time livetweeting and reading the tweets of others as the conference went on. Many of my tweets were marked as "favorites" by others, and "retweeted" or reposted in other people's tweets. I ended up with a big list of new followers, too, all because I joined in using the right hashtag. Here's an interesting artlicle about that from the church's tech department:

I was very intersted to learn from this article just how high in the national ratings the trending hashtag got.

So, the real take-away message, here, is that while you're using twitter and facebook, to find and use the hashtags that are trending in your own audience. To do this, you have to begin by finding people to follow in your audience, your industry, your niche. When you see them using hashtags, click on them, or search them. If there are a lot of relevant posts with that tag, then, you know you've hit paydirt. Sometimes you can also google search your nice and the word hashtags, because sometimes people compile articles about the hashtags and post them on blogs or pages.

Then, once you've identified them, begin using them. Make tweets and posts that are relevant to the tag and add it in. If you're sharing some online resource you've found or retweeting someone else's post, that's even better!

Then you can ride the hashtag wave to more followers, and, ultimately, new customers.

Check out Mark's other blogs, at Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Cookbooks or Handicap Parking Spot