Twitter Search and the Joys of Hashtags

twitter bird.jpgI’ve noticed an increase in engagement activity on my Twitter feed recently, and many of the most engaged users are not even my followers. While we’ve known for a long time that growing your follower count shouldn’t be a primary goal of any social program, it’s becoming increasingly clear that — similar to “Likes” on Facebook Pages — your Twitter follower count is essentially a meaningless metric.

Listen to the advice of anyone who works regularly in the Twitterverse and you’ll hear about various tools designed to help you make your experience more productive. Hootsuite comes up often for its ability to run multiple columns of both pre-selected lists and searches, as well as its ability to easily schedule tweets. Another is SeeSaw, which lets you visually track topics and hashtags then curate that information. Lists and searches dominate my personal Twitter experience and I don’t think I’m alone. Tools to manage these are much more valuable than any tool aimed at growing your followers.

CoupFlip logoHere at Fresh Ground we worked with CoupFlip, a secondary market for daily deals. CoupFlip buys deals from people who bought them and aren’t going to use them, then resells those deals. Of course, deals have expiration dates, so timing is important. A key factor that the founders told us as we started the project was that they needed to be in front of buyers close to the time of transaction.

Our program focused on various components, including a hefty dose of media relations, but a small part focused on Twitter search patterns. We researched the most-used hashtags around deals and then created a program to target the right audiences.

By focusing on regional tags as well as those around #dailydeals CoupFlip sold out all the deals we offered up. The tweets themselves were pretty simple, strategically written and well-timed.

While the CoupFlip Twitter account didn’t have a huge following, we never really needed it, search created the right kind of engagement.

Twitter, of course, understands this, as it’s offering up ads based on people’s hashtag and search habits. If you’re a regular list user you’ve probably started to see these sponsored tweets around.

I’m not sure if Twitter is going to start releasing the search data in the way that Google offers up keyword analysis, but one can certainly inform the other. Keywords that people use to search on Google are likely to be the same keywords people use to set up their Hootsuite search columns. Twitter is starting to work more closely with certified partners, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of this data becoming more prominent through those tools.

Then you need to look at how you use Twitter to inform Google search. Yes, I know that tweets are not currently part of the Google search stream, though they are part of the Bing stream. However, there are tools like Twylah which aim to help use Tweets to increase your branding and search results. A good example is on the page of Twylah founder Eric Kim.

The key here is to not just see Twitter as a chatroom, but as a place to create a branded experience that targets the right people. With a little thought and planning, you can meet your core business goals, and not just your Twitter follower goals.


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