“The brand lives in connections.” This simple—yet powerful—statement from Noah Brier, co-founder of Percolate, emphasizes the importance of social media.  Yet compelling as it is, we can take this statement one step further: I offer that your brand can also live in hashtags.

Twitter offers an amazing tool for networking, generating business leads, sharing valuable content, and creating buzz for products and ideas.  If you are not an avid Twitter user but would like to start, let me give you a good reason. The Twitter protocol known as the “hashtag” (or # symbol), which marks keywords or topics in a user’s tweet, has been making waves in the Twittersphere.  Twitter users first crafted this approach as an organic way of categorizing messages.  It may have come from humble roots, but these days the power behind the hashtag is enormous.


“Twitter Chat” is the New Neon Sign on the Road to Creating Value

Twitter Chat could be one of the most powerful communication methods ever conceived, swinging the door wide open for new networking opportunities.  This medium represents a new global discussion forum with the power to bring together people from areas as small as a city or as big as a globe—all at the same place, at the same time.  You can use Twitter Chat to meet and tweet about relevant business topics or other shared interests.  A very popular example is the Marketer Monday chat or #MMchat, one of the longest running weekly Twitter chats.  The first #MMchat took place on July 26, 2010, with Rick Wion as a guest. Now at 86 weekly chats and counting, #MMchat continues to feature other noteworthy guests.  Its largest chat generated over 2,000 tweets and 20 million Twitter impressions in a single hour.

“Building your own  community on Twitter is about creating value in terms of content and relationships.  Even more basic than that, it’s about giving, not taking,” says Kent Huffman (@KentHuffman), founder of #MarketerMonday (aka #MM), Co-Publisher of Social Media Marketing Magazine and author of 8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success.  Kent’s #MarketerMonday concept, first implemented in order to suggest which marketers to follow, became the inspiration for #MMChat (held every Monday at 8 p.m. EST).  Just follow/search the #MMchat hashtag on Twitter.  #MMchat is sponsored by @TheSocialCMO and was created by Jeff Ashcroft (@JeffAshcroft), Founder, another social media visionary.

Administrators make an electronic transcription to serve as a record of each chat.  To give you a feel for a Twitter chat flow, here is a link to a recent #MMchat on The Role of DNA in the Future of Marketing.  To view more chat transcripts just visit The Social CMO blog where they are posted each week.

More Important Ways Twitter Hashtags Can Boost Your Business

Hashtags function like a lighthouse to attract Twitter users to content that may be of interest.  The number of ways a business can use hashtags has become quite extensive.  However, it’s important that you don’t think of a hashtag as a place, but as a conversation.

Here are several ways to use Hashtags:

  • You can “tag” a word or short phrase to park it in a place where others can find it.  For example, for tweets about Apple, the company would be #Apple.  Or, to reach healthcare marketers you might use tags such as #hcmktg.  Think of a hashtag as your very own parking space in the Twitterverse.
  • People search using hashtags as well.  For example, if you want to find the latest information on Zappos, you could search #zappos.  Or, you could search other tags such as #leadership, #innovation, #startups or #smallbiz.
  • “Friday Follow” (#FF) is essentially a salute to members of your Twitter community.  Just include your followers’ names in a tweet preceded by #FF.
  • Live tweeting at an event (e.g. conferences, meetings, educational courses, etc.).  More and more promoters are communicating their unique event hashtag to generate buzz before, during, and after an event.  For example, tweeting to a unique hashtag while at an event is a great way to locate participants you may want to meet.  The recently concluded mega social media conference, South by Southwest, used the hashtag #SXSW.  Participants at SXSW generated literally thousands of tweets within just a few days.  People who were interested in this event but couldn’t attend followed the #SXSW hashtag to see what was happening in real time.  Read more about the high energy dispensed at South by Southwest via David Berrkowitz’s article “What SXSW Attendees Need the Most” from Media Post Publications.
  • Hashtags provide a new way for a business to segment its market.  For example, if you are interested in pursuing communities focused on a particular market segment, you can identify these groups’ relevant hashtags by searching through hashtags already in use.  Go to www.hashtags.org for an overview of popular hashtags used on Twitter.  It is important to note that hashtags are not trademarked or controlled by any user or group.

Audi Scores Big with #solongvampires

In the 2012 Super Bowl, Audi created a very different kind of ad that featured a vampire bringing a special gift to a party.  As the audience wondered why Audi would associate its brand with vampires, the ad’s true objective became known: introduce Audi’s new LED headlights, which turn nighttime into daylight—of course, a vampire’s worst enemy!  As the vampires disappear one by one, we are led to the final frame in the commercial: #solongvampires.  Viewers were encouraged to go to the hashtag to register their opinion.  Twitter users responded in droves, meaning the hashtag had successfully extended the brand’s reach.  Other links on this topic:

Audi’s 30-second Super Bowl Ad: “Vampire Party”

This post was originally published on AT&T’s Networking Exchange Blog.

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