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Cat Lazaroff

Discovering - and using - the hashtags that are being used by your opposition can be an excellent way to spread information to potentially moveable audiences. It can also be a handy way to drown out the opposition, if that's your goal. Groups working on climate issues are actively watching, and using, the hashtags created by climate-deniers. We find them about as quickly as they are created, and are quickly able to mobilize our community to tweet corrections to misinformation campaigns, and direct tweeters to online resources for nonpartisan studies and scientific information.

Matt Koltermann

When I created a Twitter profile for Cross-Cultural Solutions late last year (@volunteerabroad), naturally the first thing I did was look for content on Twitter related to our sector, volunteering abroad. Through keyword searches ("volunteer abroad," of course, and "international volunteer," "voluntourism," and others), I found people who were chatting about their interest in volunteering abroad -- which is great when it comes to discovering and engaging prospective volunteers -- but, interestingly, I had a lot of trouble find peer organizations and others in our sector who were tweeting the content I was looking for. Or, I found people/orgs who sometimes tweet about volunteering abroad, but not consistently enough for me to be interested in following them.

I perceived a need for people, companies, and organizations involved in the sector to share content specifically related to volunteering abroad in a way that made it easily discoverable. There were already lots of great examples where Twitter users were using hashtags to aggregate tweets around a particular topic, so why shouldn't there be one for tweets about volunteering abroad?

So, #volabroad was born as an experiment to find out if other people and orgs also perceived a similar need. We used for many months before it gained traction, but now there seem to be about a dozen or so Twitter users who are using it on a regular basis to tag content about volunteering abroad...and it's helpful stuff, too! :)

Jill Finlayson

There are issue area and regional tags, even business model tags, which, especially in combination with one other tag, can be quite useful.

For example, popular issues include:
#microfinance #hiv #water

And examples of regional tags include continents, countries, regions
#Africa #Kenya #mideast or #middleast (there is not always consensus)

Business models:
#SocEnt (social entrepreneurship) #nonprofit #socialenterprise #volunteering

Combined, for example, you might find #water and #africa useful:

But trying to get more specific and use more than two tags in search is unlikely to deliver results - people will run out of room for their actual tweet.

Cheers, Jill aka @socialedge

Will Coley

This is a GREAT post, Beth! I used hashtags for a recent panel at Netroots Nation: #nn09 & #StepUp to crowdsource notetaking and also getting our issue into the sights of the larger conference. I wrote about the strategy here.

I'm wondering if you know what to do when your tweets stop showing up in hashtag searches. It's been happening to me for the past 2 weeks and I've resorted to using other accounts. Apparently "a href="">I'm not alone but no one knows how to fix the problem.

Will Coley

Corrected link from above re: Twitter search problem: Apparently I'm not alone but no one knows how to fix the problem.

Carie Lewis

Hey Beth, just posted on my blog about how we made our Taking Action for Animals conference "socially-enabled" and touched alot on Twitter and hashtags.

Daniel O'Neil

Thanks Beth. It seems to me that hash tags work best when they are used as abbreviations for phrases that are too long to use with twitter such as #volabroad or #NWF or a way of artificially creating a discussion community such as #4change. Since there are so many ways of searching twitter, I don't understand the advantage of using the hashtag next to short words such as HIV or Africa. For our work on the Haitian-Dominican border, I get far more results when I search for "Haiti" rather than "#Haiti". What do you think?

Lisa Colton

A number of us interested in a new era of Jewish education have been using #JEd21 (Jewish education in the 21st century) over the past several weeks. The discussion has moved forward at a surprising rate, and is engaging more and more people as the first 8-10 core participants added #JED21 to so many of their tweets that it inspired others to check it out. We've blazed through topics, and are now seeking ways to bring this group together for a longer format discussion and possible action in the community. A number of participants have blogged about it on their own sites. It's been really fun to be part of a vibrant conversation, and 140 limit has actually helped us, since few of us would keep up as actively on a longer format listserv or blog.

BJ Wishinsky

In response to Dan's question, adding a hash mark (#) preceding a word in your tweet automatically turns that word into a hashtag, and that hashtag into a hyperlink. Anyone reading the tweet on the Twitter website (and in some Twitter apps) just has to click on the hashtag to pull up a search for that term, which makes it easier to see the rest of the conversation around that topic.

My nonprofit works to advance women in technology fields. Each of our events has a hashtag that our staff and attendees use before, during and afterwards to spread information, connect with participants, and share learnings and experiences. It draws attention to the value of our work and also shares some of that value with those who can't attend. I also actively use and promote the #women2follow tag on Wednesdays (and, I admit, on #followfriday as well) to help help counter the documented tendency for most twitterers to follow more men than women.

Will Coley

Beth, I found out how to resolve problems with lost tweets in hashtag searches on Twitter (i.e. as discussed on Get Satisfaction):

Fill out a problem report here:
AND send a tweet to @Lukester.

They resolved it in a hour.

Patrick Byrd

Thanks for the article Beth. I'm researching how to integrate twitter into a donation/event organization website and your post really helped. I think using hashtags for organizing events could be very helpful, moreso than using them for an overall issue. Having the event organizer post on their blog a message which includes a specific hashtag, combined with a retweet button could be very powerful for disseminating information to participants..

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