I have been fully utilizing Twitter for about 1 1/2 years. When I first began my #twitter experience, I really didn’t understand what to do; much less formulate a strategy on how best to start interacting and using this marvelous communications tool.
I had many, many questions regarding how to find people to interact with, do I set up a personal and a business account, do people really care about the information I am tweeting, and more.
Rather than supply a guide to getting up and running, just visit here. Why mess with a good thing that @mashable and crew developed? One piece of advice I will give is to separate your personal and business twitter accounts. A clean separation is best. Another thing, don’t start spamming and hard selling; twitter is about building relationships, both personal and professional.
I digress from my purpose….
There is a wonderful “tool” within twitter called hashtags. Hashtags were created by the twitter community to allow for streamlined search capabilities and easier data aggregation. All they are are words that have a # sign before them. For example, #agriculture #agchat #precisionfarming, #yarnweaving etc..
Naturally there is a business use for data aggregation; however, I want to focus on what you, the user can use hashtags for to enhance your experience.
Find people with similar interests:
Wondering about who you can follow and engage with? Search on a hashtag. As you may already know, I am extremely passionate about agriculture (see my All Things Agriculture blog) so I routinely search the hashtag #agriculture to find new people to interact and share knowledge with. As an aside, one of my favorite uses of twitter is the knowledge share that takes place. There are so many intelligent people on twitter that are generously sharing their insights. I am very appreciative of this aspect of twitter and try to give back to the community if I am able. Here is a snaphot of an #agriculture hashtag search:
Now you can scroll through the various tweets, find the ones that interest you, and start following people with a similar interest. Keep in mind that there is a difference between similar interest and similar opinion. Please don’t let that stop you from interacting; engaging with others who have a passion for a topic and hold a different view point can actually be an ideal situation. As long as there is mutual respect, you both may learn something. I make it a point to find other passionate folks in my industry, follow them, and interact.
If you have spent any time trying to “keep up” with all of your friends tweets, you have probably experienced how difficult this is. For me, it is impossible! Just think about it: Twitter is a global community; your friends my be located in another country (ie Japan). While you are finishing your day (5PM CST), the Japanese are just starting theirs (8AM). Luckily I found a great tool on Facebook to help me keep track of information that I want to be sure and browse for interesting content that I can RT! Naturally you need to Facebook account. If you do not have one, navigate here. Once you have an account, navigate to the Applications page and search for Social Transcripts. Once you have authorized this app, you will be able to setup your twitter feeds based on the appropriate hashtags.
Here is a snapshot of the feeds I currently have in place:
Following Special Events:
As we all know, the 2010 Olympics recently concluded. I was not able to follow every event that transpired, so I depended on the hashtags being used for the Olympics to keep up to date on the “going’s on”. It is really nice to be able to search on a hashtag and have the latest and greatest displayed, especially with commentary from some of my favorite people I follow; they just add that extra umphh to the information! Another great example is conferences and trade shows. Naturally we cannot attend every trade show and conference that is relevant to our work; however, live tweeting with hastags allows you to experience, albeit vicariously through someone else, the high points and presentations. As an example, I could not attend the Commodity Classic this year so I added a column to my Seesmic Desktop Client titled #Classic10. I could then just browse through that column, read through some of the highlights, and decide what interviews I wanted to listen to. Nice! So, whatever your interest, I am sure there are shows, meetings, or conferences. If you can’t attend, do it vicariously through the twitter hashtag.
Live Streaming Chats:
I so love live chats on Twitter. Of course my favorite is #agchat being that I have a slight ag bent. The live chats allows multiple individuals to interact using a hashtag. Even if you are not following someone, you can interact with them using a hashtag. Other services also make use of the hashtag; my favorite is Twubs.
Follow “Issues of the Day”:
As is evident, I am involved in the field of agriculture. Since agriculture is compromised with so many complicated methodologies, passionate individuals, and pressing scientific questions, it is impossible to keep track of the information I need to formulate my opinions and provide a balanced view of my industry. Rather than perform a Google search and only look at trade publications, I use the Twitter hashtag to see what people are reading, listen to their view points, and see what people are saying on their blogs. A great example of this is the #GMO hashtag. This is a very heated issue, globally, so the #GMO hashtag allows me to review the excellent information that is available.
So what do you use Hashtags for? Following the latest trends on twitter or maybe something else. I would love to hear some of your uses. Thanks for reading.