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Meet the hashtag “#.” It doesn’t look like much, but if you use Twitter and haven’t mastered the hashtag yet, it is soon going to be your new best friend.
Let’s face it: If you are new to Twitter or don’t use it very often, it can be very overwhelming. It’s hard to wade your way through thousands of irrelevant tweets to find the interesting little gems.[note_box]The humble hashtag transforms your tweeting experience. It helps you easily find what you are looking for, as well as being able to help you get your message out there to the right people.[/note_box]
So let’s start from the beginning and show you how to use #hashtags:
What is a hashtag?
Even if you’ve never been on Twitter, you are probable still aware of hashtags without even knowing it. You may have noticed the trend for seeing a certain word or phrase with the hashtag symbol, “#” just before it.
For example, if you’re watching a TV program, let’s say The X Factor or the Super Bowl, during the links they will display the words, #xfactor or #superbowl.
Sports presenters and chat show hosts alike will tell people a specific hashtag address if they want to learn more about or get involved in certain topical stories. Magazines, newspapers, even music songs feature the hashtag. It has now become part of our cultural psyche.
The hashtag comes alive once you go on Twitter. When you see a post with the hashtag you will find that hashtag is clickable. Clicking on the hashtag will bring up a page listing all of the recent tweets featuring that specific hashtag.
So now you know what it is, let us show you how you can use the hashtag for your business.
Find relevant people to follow
Hashtags are an excellent way to look for people who have similar interests to you. So for example, if you were watching the Super Bowl and want to see what other people were saying about the game, you could easily find out by using the #superbowl hashtag.
Now imagine how you can use this for your practice. If somebody is using a hashtag that you’re interested in, then the chances are they would be a good person to follow. So look out for hashtags that are relevant to your practice or prospective patients by following major physical therapy publications and organizations. This makes it very easy to find key people in the physical therapy industry, as these are the ones who will be regularly tweeting people using these hashtags.
Make your practice easy to find
You can make your private practice easy to find by using hashtags, as they will allow relevant people to find you right away. Hashtags will not only help you get discovered, but as you begin to tweet more often, they can also be a great way to categorize your tweets into different areas.
So if your practice happens to offer a variety of services, you will be able to segregate your tweets by using hashtags relevant to the specific areas you want to highlight. This will help you to target your tweets to the right people and make it easier for them to not only find your tweets but to also follow and engage with you.
Join in the conversation
As hashtags group together all the tweets with a common theme, you can effortlessly seek out the hashtags that focus on your particular niche. Once you find them, join in the conversations that are already happening on Twitter and share your expertise. These conversations give you a ready-made platform to showcase your knowledge and help make you an authority on the subject, meaning more people will be inclined to seek you out for treatment in the future.
Get people talking
Don’t rely on joining in other people’s conversations. Take the initiative and start a discussion off yourself. This is a useful way to drive engagement with your practice.
Encourage people to interact with you on various topics or ask for their opinions. For extra interaction don’t forget to promote your hashtag by adding it to your social media bios, your website and your marketing material. After all, it’s pointless to have a hashtag if nobody sees it.
Use hashtags to promote events
Hashtags are unbelievably useful for spreading the word if you are promoting an event. Not only that, but you can create a buzz and boost interaction with attendees during the event.
We have even seen some promoters add their hashtags to promotional items which is a brilliant idea, but don’t stop there. At the event, feature your hashtags prominently on your pop up stands and media displays. Why? Because this could encourage attendees to tweet about the event, upload photos and comment on the presentations etc.
All of this activity can really help to boost interest in your event on social media. If it happens to be a regular event, it could increase attendance at your future events.[colored_box variation=”steelblue”]
Keep your hashtags short and sweet. Long hashtags can be difficult to read and eat up precious characters in Twitter’s small 140-character limit.
Another potential pitfall of extended hashtags is the longer they get, the more susceptible they become to being misspelled when people are typing them out. Not only will this dilute the power of your hashtag, but your message will get lost in the Twittersphere.
Don’t go hashtag crazy. You don’t need to use a hashtag on every tweet, but if you do use a hashtag, limit them to one or two in any single tweet.
The whole point is to focus your content on one or two key subjects, so using too many hashtags in one tweet means you will be joining too many conversations. Not only does it make it hard to monitor, it will also make your tweet difficult to read.[/colored_box]