140+: In the Moment


Cross-pollinating with Hashtags on Twitter


Cross-pollinating on Twitter?  What is she talking about now?

I’ve blogged about the joys of Twitter as a tool in non-profit organizations (specifically early childhood education) and mentioned hashtags before, but today, let’s go a little deeper to see how hastags can help unrelated twitterers (or Tweeps) connect through common interests. The Twitter Fan Wiki explains that “Hashtags were developed as a means to create “groupings” on Twitter, without having to change the basic service.”

First, the basics:

What is a hashtag?
Hashtags refer to the practice of placing the “#” symbol prior to a “tag” (or topic category) to indicate that a tweet will be of interest to anyone who is interested in the topic.

Here’s a sample tweet to help illustrate hashtags:

What you see is a tweet with information that would be interesting to anyone who is following the topic #ece (or early childhood education),  #teachers, #education, or #educationcareers.

Hashtags are very helpful because you can easily find information about topics that interest you without wading through lots of tweets that are not interesting to you.

How do you use hashtags?

If you are not already “following” topics, you can easily do so by using the search function on Twitter or your twitter client by entering the search term you want to follow. If a tweet about information that interests you is posted, but you are not online at the time to see it, you can see it whenever you search.  For example, I am interested in #leadership, #nonprofit issues, #fundraising, #socmed (social media), #marketing, early childhood education (#ece, #earlychildhood, #NAEYC, #PreK), #parenting, women’s issues (#women), progressive issues (#p2), and #advocacy, among other topics. So I keep my twitter client (Seesmic) set to search for those hashtags. Whenever I start up Seesmic, I can quickly scan to see what’s been posted.

You will rarely find a tweet from me in which there is not a hastag. I just believe tweeting without hashtags is like shouting into the wind. The only way someone is going to see it is if they happen to be online, or if the organic tweet includes a commonly searched term.

Now onto the cross-pollinating concept:
I use hastags very strategically to allow people who are interested in one topic discover other related topics and communities. For example, I often read information related to leadership from which  managers or people who follow #management might benefit, so I add #leadership #management. I also see tweets with #ece that parents might like, so I retweet with the #parenting and #parents hashtags.  Also, I really want to make sure the ECE community becomes aware of social media and technology resources, so I not only add #ece to my social media tweets, but I also created the hastag #ecetech. (How did I do that? I just started using it in my technology related tweets along with ece, and people started picking it up, and now we have a little group. COOL!)

Hashtags are great for live tweeting or creating chats at specific times. For example, there were a lot of tweets from the NAEYC conference with the #NAEYC_AC hashtag. It was great to stay on top of what was going on.

Hashtags can help you participate in Twitter chats. Let’s say you want to have a conversation about a specific book. You would just post a tweet like:

Hey, Tweeps: #booktitlechat at 8 PM Tuesday, 4/13. #topic #topic #topic

  • #booktitle = the title of the book
  • chat indicates that there is going to be a live Twitter chat
  • #topic= a related group or topic that people might find interesting.

Of course, to make the chat really work, you have to give people a lot of notice and tweet about it a lot…right up until the time you are ready to start. Notice that the various #topic hashtags help cross-pollinate, and  bring various groups of previously unrelated people together. As the chat gets underway, the various Twitterers can find more people with whom they might like to connect, and then follow them.

Does cross-pollination on Twitter make sense now? Add a comment if you have other ideas or if you think I am just plain nuts!

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13 Responses to 'Cross-pollinating with Hashtags on Twitter'

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  1. sueannereed said,

    One of the great things about hashtag chats and knowledge sharing is that most that I’m involved with carry throughout the week. If I see something that’s related to blogging, I’ll often tag it with #blogchat, because I know that people follow that hashtag all week log.

    • Fran Simon said,

      Good point. If you know there is a regular chat on a topic, the #_____chat tag can be used whenever you see something relevant and those people who participate will pick up on the comment for discussion later. Sue Anne, thanks for the comment and for the shout out in your blog!


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  3. Vicki said,

    Great information! I use hashtags daily and rely on them to keep current on topics of interest to me.

    Thanks for including hashtags in your tweets, Fran. Not only do I find useful information that you have tweeted but I also get to read through other’s tweets, too.

    Bonus: I have found some wonderful new people to follow through hashtagged twitterstreams!

    @VickiEhlers

    • Fran Simon said,

      Hi Vicki!

      You know, I think you and I “met” through the #play hashtag! Perfect example! Thanks for commenting!

  4. Atena said,

    Fran, you are quite brilliant! Cross-pollination makes perfect sense and I’m going to start doing this more intentionally. This is particularly relevant to my desire to bring ECE issues to more mainstream, everyday people who don’t necessarily think about early childhood topics regularly, as a means to promote advocacy.

    I always appreciate what you bring – thanks again!

    Atena

    • Fran Simon said,

      Hi Atena:

      Thanks for the comment. I’m so glad you can use the information to inform people about ECE! This is exactly why I wrote the piece. Rock on!


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