Do You Use Hashtags?

A friend of mine owns an art gallery. She often seeks my input on marketing ideas. Over the past year, I have encouraged her to use social media to connect with her customers and expose herself to potential new customers.

Being in the 50+ age category, my friend has been slow to embrace the use of social media. She often wonders whether it is just a waste of her time.

I recently taught my friend the importance of using hashtags on Twitter. For those of you that don’t yet know what a hashtag is, the official definition from Twitter states: “The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”

Twitter users place hashtags in their tweets to maximize exposure for the tweet. The hashtag symbol (#) is placed before relevant keywords. This allows the tweet to be categorized to show more easily in a Twitter search. It also allows the tweet to be made available to those people who follow trending conversations on Twitter by watching the tweets with a specific hashtag.

Many Twitter users follow hashtag specific conversations. For example, as a publisher, you might want to watch what is being said on the #publishing trend. Two websites that allow Twitter users to track twitter conversations by hashtag in real-time are Monitter and Twitterfall. Twitter users can also find out which hashtags are getting the most attention at Hashtags.org. This website provides a handy hour-by-hour graph on any hashtag usage.

The other day my gallery-owner friend called me all excited. She reported that a gentleman had contacted her studio to purchase a painting. When she asked him where he had found out about the painting and her gallery, the man replied that he had seen it on the #fineart hashtag on Twitter. My friend now had proof positive that effectively using social media can actually bring her new clients.

If you have not yet incorporated hashtags into your Twitter strategy, I recommend that you start today.

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