They’re called hashtags, and in the twitterverse of billions of tweets, they allow you to search, organize and share messages by attaching the “#” sign to a phrase, word or abbreviation.
Hashtags are an effective and important way of disseminating content on Twitter. Think about it this way: When you tweet an article, thought or quote, your tweet then shows up in the feed of your followers and they can do what they please with the information. But when you add a hashtag to a tweet, your message is opened up to anyone who follows that hashtag.
For example, if you want to share information about diabetes in a tweet, place the hashtag #dsma in your tweet and anyone searching for tweets regarding diabetes can find it. It’s like zeroing in on a target market. On May 4, 1580 tweets contained the #dsma hashtag. How did we know to use #dsma for diabetes? We’ll get to that in a moment.
When it comes to your hospital’s Twitter account, hashtags can be an incredibly easy way to get information out to as many people as possible. Here are a few tips for using them effectively.
The first step to using hashtags is to determine which ones will have the most effect. To do this, you can visit the website foxepractice.com for their list of healthcare hashtags. This is where we found the hashtag for diabetes. From specific medical terms to specialties, you’ll find a great list of hashtags to help get your tweets more exposure.
While you’re on the Fox ePractice website, you can also click on the hashtags to see statistics such as daily tweets, activity, influencers and a live feed.
Anyone can create a hashtag, although it’s a good idea to do a simple search to see if one already exists and is in wide use.
If you’ve ever attended a webinar, or an event, you have probably noticed that the company or organization in charge has created an event hashtag. Event hashtags are an effective way for moderators to follow what attendees are saying, for attendees to share the messages that resonate, and for those who were not able to attend the event to follow along. The recent #SwedishRagan event was a great example.
When the news of Bin Laden’s death was spreading this week, millions of tweets were tagged with #BinLaden.Today we’re attending the Chick-fil-A Leadercast with 80,000 participants in remote locations. We’re sharing our favorite thoughts by including #CFALeadercast in our tweets.
Hashtags typically appear at the end of a tweet, much like tags in a blog. They give you the opportunity to explain your tweet’s comments. Just be sure you don’t use too many. Twitter etiquette recommends that you use no more than three hashtags per tweet; otherwise your tweets can be confusing to read or are at the risk of looking like spam.
Tracking hashtags is a great way to become part of smaller conversations on Twitter. If you are using a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you simply have to create a column for a particular hashtag, and any tweet containing it will show up in real time.
Take some time to listen to what’s going on in the communities you’re trying to connect with by following key hashtags. Then jump in and join the conversation. Hashtags are a great way to be part of the community.
How we help
Hive Strategies helps hospitals engage patients through social media. We don’t manage social media. Instead, we help hospitals develop an effective social media strategy and mentor them through the implementation process. Start a conversation. Email us or call us at 503-472-5512.