Welcome to the Friday Five – be sure to check out past posts in this ongoing series.
If you’re new to Twitter, you may be wondering why certain words in many Tweets begin with a hashtag (#). This is a system of organizing, grouping and tracking Tweets that started back in 2007. You can read all about it on the Twitter Fan Wiki. My take on hashtags is that they allow you to watch only the Twitterstream for a particular topic or theme, uninterrupted, without any of the constant distractions and clutter that can be ever-present on Twitter.
A recent update to the hashtag phenomenon is a hand sign (or gang sign, to those in the know) attributable either to Brian Solis or Robert Scoble. At the SXSW conference this year, this hand sign was all the rage with the digerati and was even featured in a clever game of SXSW bingo.
So why should you care about hashtags? Because they’re the best way to track conversation threads across Twitter. By using Summize (aka Twitter Search) and monitoring for particular hashtags, you can parse and group Tweets about a particular subject for easy monitoring or to follow along with a live event or real-time conversation. Most social media events have a pre-assigned hashtag – #SXSW being an obvious example – so it’s easy to follow the conversation stream as people Tweet live from the scene of the action.
So what are the hottest hashtags right now? In past posts I’ve blogged about #journchat, which heats up Twitter on Monday nights for PR folks and journalists. Now, here’s my guide to five other popular hashtags and how best to follow along.
1. Hot hashtags for PR pros: I keep a Summize screen open all day tuned to “#pradvice OR #PR” in order to follow Tweets tagged specifically for PR pros. This is a great way to find smart PR people to follow or find out what topics or blog posts are popular at the moment.
2. Hot hashtags for healthcare: There appears to be a sudden influx of hospital and other health industry folks on Twitter right now, many of whom are tagging Tweets with “#healthcare OR#hcsm OR #hcmktg.” Those are all good tags to watch – and you can watch all three simultaneously using that link.
3. Hot hashtags for women in tech: This week I noticed both Ada Lovelace Day” and hashtag #ALD09 were trending on Twitter. After a quick visit to the Tweetstream on Summize, I found the Finding Ada blog which explained it all: Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. It was great to see women on Twitter and in blogs around the world extolling the successes of women in tech. Now I know for next year – March 24, 2010 I definitely plan to blog about my favorite unsung woman in tech.
4. Hot hashtags for social media info: Another screen I leave up all day is Summize tuned to “#smbiz OR #socialmedia OR social media OR #scrm” to keep up with the latest social media news, trends, links and blog posts shared via Twitter. It’s hard to stay on top of everything, but this and other shortcuts (like checking Delicious for what’s popular in social media) can go a long way to keeping you informed.
5 – Hottest hashtag of all for you: This may not require a hashtag at all, according to blogger Matt Browne who claimed last summer that hashtag use is dying. I think time has proven him wrong – more people are using hashtags than ever before, and there’s now a nice reference site that catalogs them all – but he makes a good point. The best search term or keyword for you to search on may still be hashtag-less. Just search on your hottest industry keyword or buzz phrase – whatever search term matters most to you or your business. This could even be your own Twitter @ name, so you never miss a Tweet that mentions you. Or, it could be your company or brand name, a competitor or a hot industry issue or trend.
Ultimately, it makes sense to keep a Summize screen open and rotate through your top keywords and hashtags throughout the day to ensure you never miss an important Tweet.
What are some other hot hashtags I’ve missed? Let me know which ones you’re tracking.
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