How To Use Hashtags as an Effective Listening Tool?

By on March 29, 2011
listening

We’ve written some great posts on how touse hashtags on Twitter, but do you know how to use them as an effective listening tool? A sound social media strategy always includes a fair amount of ‘listening’ also known as monitoring or tracking.

Either way, listening on social media is what separates the successful campaigns, from the not-so-successful ones. But how do you use hashtags (#) to listen in on what people are saying about your brand, your competitor’s brands, or on hot topics you can include in your social strategy?


The Power of the Hashtag

Twitter is an amazing tool for listening in on what’s happening in real time – and at the heart of it all is the powerful hashtag. Hashtags are to Twitter, what keywords are to Google. In other words they give you the power to research, locate and monitor streams of conversation that are of interest to your business. No idea how to go about doing this? Here are some easy steps to get you started.


1. Research The Hashtags That Matter

Your business is niche specific, which means that right now, there could be 8 million people talking about a product that you sell on Twitter, and you wouldn’t even know it!

Now that people are becoming pro hashtaggers, you are able to research which hashtags are relevant to your business, and follow them. You could do some general searches on Twitter, watch out for relevant trending topics you could use, or – you could use Hashtags.org.

Hashtags.org is a stats site that evaluates each hashtag and provides you with usable data based on how popular it is, and when it’s used most often. Once you have this information, you’ll be able to join conversations, or follow people that use the tag in their Tweets.


2. Following Hashtags With Listening Tools

While the hashtag itself is a listening tool, it becomes nearly impossible to monitor all the streams of conversation that you could use to enhance your social media strategy. That’s why some clever developers came up with listening tools, for the listening tool. Sites like Monitter for example, allow you to keep track of a lot of keywords that are floating around the Twittersphere.

The great thing about tools like Monittor, is that they also allow you to narrow your real time keyword searches with a handy geographical location feature. Some alternatives to Monittor are Twitterfall, TweetChat and HootSuite. Each has their own charm and functionality, so pick one that fits in with your needs.

Once you’re dialed in to the various hashtags you should be following, it’s easy to listen in on all the great conversation happening in the Twitterverse. Don’t forget to follow your own hashtags too, using these tools to keep an eye on how popular they become. There you have it, that’s how you start using Twitter hashtags as a listening tool!

Do you have a favorite hashtag? List it below and tell us why you love it!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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