Twitter for Business Step-By-Step Guide: How Hashtags Work

Twitter hashtags are one of the strongest reasons this social media network has done so well.  Let’s take a look at how we can make the most of them.


Step 1.  What is a Hashtag and How do I Create One?

A hashtag is a keyword preceded by the “#” symbol.  When inserted into a Twitter post, it helps people quickly find all posts also containing that particular hashtag.  You can use capital letters within a hashtag to make them easier to remember (e.g. “#AllJobs” or “#alljobs”), but you cannot use spaces or all numerals. Hashtags can go in the beginning, middle or end of your tweet.

What hashtags do is allow people to search more easily for tweets on specific topics. When you search for a hashtag, every post containing that hashtag will be displayed in your feed area.

You can also create your own hashtag, but before you do, it’s a good idea to see if there is one that already exists – not just the exact hashtag you have in mind, but also similar hashtags already trending that might serve your purpose better.

There are two ways to quickly find hashtags out of thin air:

  • Enter a hashtag in Twitter’s own search box
  • Look for it on dedicated hashtag sites like

Be warned, however:  If you use Twitter’s own search box to search for specific hashtags, a very nasty trend has developed all on its own recently.  People have been maneouvering extremely explicit pornographic photos into the “Top Photos” for such long-standard hashtags as “#FF” or “FollowFriday”.

How to find keywords at

This site is one of the best places to find hashtags – and not just find them, but see how well they are performing too.

1.     Go to


2.     Click on the “How to” tab in the top horizontal menu and read up on the “Quick Start Guide to Hashtags”.


This wonderful resource won’t just tell you about Twitter hashtags, but give you information on other social platforms that have begun to use them.  It will also tell you about other Twitter facts.


Step 2.  How to Follow Trends

Follow trends and use their hashtags in your tweets.  Trends may not often provide much value, since they are not driven by your keywords and contacts – but they do provide two things you can use:

  • You can get a feel for Twitter culture by seeing what is going viral
  • You can make use of highly viral, “seasonal” tweets to grab some visibility and exposure for your profile.


Even within tightly-focused niches, most people still celebrate holidays, seasons and seasonal landmarks.  Remember that, and use it to your advantage.

(You can find trending hashtags on Twitter in your left-hand, vertical menu, as well as in Twitter-serving sites such as


Step 3.  How to use Hashtags Correctly

It’s easy to use hashtags correctly:  What is a little trickier is using them effectively.

Once you’ve got past the basics of what not to do (use spaces or all numerals), you need to create hashtags that are catchy, memorable and easy to use.

The same goes for pre-existing hashtags created by others.  Don’t grab the first hashtag you see for a topic or event:  Check to see if there are better-trending versions.


Step 4.  Making, Finding and Managing Hashtags

Don’t just search for hashtags in your Home feed search bar: Go to Twitter’s dedicated search and enter your keywords there.


Click on the “advanced search” anchor text, if you want to add specific search parameters. also quotes Twitter on what not to do, when creating hashtags:


Tracking Your Hashtags

Hashtags.orgs has heavy-duty analytics analytics – but as you can see, they don’t come cheap.


And since TweetChat effectively discontinued itself, thanks to Twitter API changes (though it has been rebranded as “SmartStream” and there is still a TweetChat URL) there are no really good free alternatives for thorough hashtag analysis.

A better solution for the average, single online marketer’s budget is Hashtracking, which offers a month’s free trial and starts at $29.00 per month.  If your market’s main social network is primarily Twitter, this might be worth its weight in ROI.


Hashtracking provides real-time analytics and reports, their “smart control” also allows you to analyze reach and effectiveness.

This is a snapshot of Hashtracking real-time analysis


You can also measure your hashtag reach manually (if less accurately) by keeping a count on how many retweets contain it and how many others use your hashtag.

Finally, after it has gained some use, you can return to Hashtracking’s main page and enter it in their “Hashtrack Explorer” field.


Step 5.  How to Generate Hashtag Discussion

In order to generate discussion using a particular hashtag you’ve created, there are three steps you need to make sure you’ve taken:

  1. 1.     Create the hashtag around a highly specific, hot article, event or topic
  2. 2.     Actively cross-promote it – via your email list, your blog and other social media networks
  3. 3.     Provide a powerful incentive for people to share it

It doesn’t matter what this incentive is, as long as your target audience thinks it is something they can’t live without or can’t stop talking about.  Your incentive could be:

  • An affiliate contest
  • A new product your market has been craving
  • A free gift
  • A webinar, teleseminar or podcast
  • A viral video
  • An online event (e.g. blog tour, workshop, etc.)
  • A current, hot topic

You can also “register” your hashtag with services like and Hashtracking.  This doesn’t give you exclusive copyright to your hashtag – but it does serve it up in these platforms for others to notice and use.

Make sure you use your hashtag actively during your campaign.  Increase your visits to Twitter, so that you can make sure your message reaches out to segments of your Twitter traffic that usually misses your tweets.

You can pre-schedule your tweets with free social media managers like Hootsuite, but a better idea is to tweet manually, in real-time – and hang around long enough to acknowledge retweets or thank or reply to those who spread your hashtag in person.

Ask others to retweet your hashtag-carrying posts.

You can also create a Tweet Chat or Twitter Party, which gathers people together within specific periods to discuss the hashtag topic (e.g. your weekly Google Hangout).


Keep your hashtags short, for memorability and appeal.  (Besides, if you #createahashtagthatswaytoolong you will eat up its retweetable real estate – there’ll be less room for people to write about it within their 140 character limit and it will lose its appeal.)

And remember:  Before you set a hashtag you’ve created in use, be sure that it isn’t already connected with a negative or conflicting current event.


Step 6.  Specific Hashtag Uses

The wonderful factor about Twitter hashtags is their versatility, while still providing specific functionality and uses.

You can use hashtags to:

  • Promote a specific event – online or offline
  • Promote a new product or free gift
  • Start a discussion around a hot topic
  • Bond with a group
  • Keep people abreast of updates on a topic, event or product

(This last strategy is a great way to help build a buzz by keeping conversation going.)

Note that several specific hashtag uses are the same as specific hashtag incentives.  Your hashtag should be something people can’t wait to pass on – and it should be hot.

When you are creating it, brainstorm your topics and keyword choices thoroughly and carefully.  Your choices will play no small part in the success of your hashtag.

As mentioned, hashtags that are too long usually don’t catch on.  And if you are promoting a particular hashtag, it’s better not to include other hashtags in your tweet.  (In fact, using multiple hashtags within a tweet is a fast way to be branded as a spammer!)

But the best part about hashtags is their flexibility. So do use them and track them – even if it’s only within a Twitter search, to see who were the last one hundred people to spread your hashtag.

Remember – when you create your own hashtag, you don’t just create a keyword:  If you’ve chosen and spread it correctively, you can create an entire online community.

Twitter for Businesses: DOs and DON’Ts

Social_mediaTwitter allows business owners to interact with customers in a very unique, spontaneous and quick way. With Twitter, you can market to other business owners as often as you’d like. If you “spammed” Facebook status updates or email messages, you’d get penalized. On Twitter however, you could make a new post every hour and be commended for it.

Using Twitter for business? Here are a few tips for building your readership and improving the relationship with customers.

DOs: Add a catchy bio and not just a list of keywords. Remember to include the website URL and your location.

DOs: Use outside tools. Twitter’s default interface is great for the casual user, but is missing many features for business users. For example, you can’t schedule a tweet to be sent later. Use outside applications that add functionality to Twitter.

DOs: Pay attention to your avatar & background. Having an avatar and background that resonates with your brand can work wonders. The moment someone lands on your site, they should immediately “feel” like they’re interacting with your brand.

DOs: Make it easy to follow you. Place a Twitter button on your main website, on your posts, on your pages and generally anywhere that people can find you.

DOs: Search for related keywords and answer questions. For example, if you run a travel website, search for tweets like “going to Hawaii” or “flying to New York” and send people tips about the places they’re going.

DOs: Use RT @name to retweet. The new retweet format won’t get you noticed, because it lacks the @tweet inclusion. If you’re retweeting something, make sure to use the “RT @name” format so you show up on their @ Connect tab.

DOs: Tweet regularly. Get people in the habit of seeing your content. The more often you tweet, the more your content will be exposed to people. On Twitter, it’s very hard to tweet too often.

DON’Ts: It is difficult to read tweets that include more than 2 hashtags. Don’t add a hashtag just for the sake of including one.

DON’Ts: Avoid sending only tweets with a link. Twitter is not a bookmarking site, but a great tool to start a conversation.

If you are new to social media and need guidance to create a Twitter account, here’s how to do it:


Step 1: Create a New Account


To create a new account, go to Fill out the new account form.


Step 2: Startup Wizard


Go through the startup wizard if it’s your first time using Twitter. You’ll be invited to add people based on categories.


You’ll also be invited to search for and add contacts based on your email.


Use the categories feature and the search contacts feature to populate your initial follow list.

Step 3: Posting New Tweets


To post a Tweet to anyone who’s following you, type your message into the box on the left. Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters. This will be sent out to all your followers.


Step 4: See Who’s Talking to You


When someone wants to talk to you on Twitter, what they do is use a mention. They do this by putting the @ symbol in front of your name. For example, if your username was Jacob123, they would tweet something and put @Jacob123 in the beginning.

To see who’s been talking about you with this feature, just go to @ Connect along the top.


Note: If you and another tweeter are mutually following one another, you can communicate with direct messages. Otherwise, you have to use @ connects.

Step 5: Discover More People to Follow


To discover more people to follow, just click “Discover” along the top navigation bar. You can browse by category, by stories, by level of activity, by recommendations and by finding friends.


Step 6: Using the Feed


Once you’ve followed a handful of people, you’ll be able to see their tweets in your feed. To reply to a tweet, retweet a tweet or favorite a tweet, just hover your mouse over the tweet and click the corresponding button.