Before reading this post, you may not have ever thought you would need to use a #hashtag. Probably by now you've seen them all over the web. I have one friend on Facebook who uses them as the punchline to jokes:
The #hashtag, however, is actually a type of feed on Twitter.com. Yesterday, we talked about how the Twitter #hashtag is one quick way to attract readers to a blog post. One of the more popular ones right now is #Egypt, because Egyptian protesters are using sites like Twitter to get new out about the protests going on there. Google is even getting in on the action, helping those who have had their internet access cut off by the government there by letting them phone in their tweets using the hashtag.
You can also view the trending topics list at search.twitter.com or in the sidebar of your Twitter account when you're signed in to see what tags and search terms are currently popular.
For your business or project, however, you don't need to choose a #hashtag that is getting 500 tweets per minute. In fact, you probably don't want that, especially if you're targeting a local market. You really just need to use the tags or search terms that are getting a few tweets per hour.
Think about what the people who are looking for the information you are providing will be searching for on Twitter. They may or may not be actually using the #hashtag format, so try your search both ways (with and without the # sign in front of your search). For example, if I'm wanting to target Twitter users in the Tulsa area, I can search #Tulsa and Tulsa, and find that the search term without the # sign gets more hits.
Beyond that, just play around with different search terms to find out which ones ultimately get the most retweets, and/or drive traffic to your blog or web page.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.