This post in 3rd in a series on content curation, which is where you read other content on the web and share it with your online audience, via your blog in most cases and sometimes social media channels.
Once you have identified the topics that are relevant to your audience, as we explored in part 2 of the series, you need to search for good content about those topics. One of the best ways to do this is by using hashtags — those short subject titles that are attached to social media posts preceded by the # sign. Hashtags are used to categorize and group content according to theme, subject or area of interest.
Examples of Relevant Hashtags
I run a marketing and advertising business, so meaningful hashtags for me include #SEO, #socialmedia, #marketing, #SMM (social media marketing) and #advertising. Someone who owns a chain of nail salons might follow content with hashtags such as #beauty, #nails, #manicures and #fashion. Fans of the television series Sons of Anarchy search for news about their show using #SonsOfAnarchy and #SoA.
Some large content categories like “politics” or “economics” will be associated with multiple hashtags, usually linked to a sub-section of the topic. In the case of “politics,” two large hashtag categories in the US are #GOP and #Dems. Political topics are further divided into many more hashtags, such as #p2 (generally used to denote “progressive” political viewpoints) and #Cons (used to signal “conservative” political viewpoints). For news about economics, geographic names can prove helpful. For instance, #BRICS generally flags economic news about the so-called BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
How to Find the Right Hashtags
So how do you know which hashtags are the right ones for you? And even if you find the right general tags, how do you choose between, say, #SonsOfAnarchy and #SoA? The answer is, you experiment. But you’re not out there all alone on the internet. There are some very good websites that slice and dice hashtag use, language and effectiveness. Here are a few to try:
hashtags.org — Type a hashtag into the site’s search box and in seconds it will show you a graph of how often that tag has been used in the last 24 hours. It will also generate a list of actual tweets and social media posts that used the hashtag in the recent past. Scan these to see what specific type of content people are linking to a particular hashtag. You will probably want to test several different tags to see which ones are more popular. The more people using a hashtag, the more content you will have to choose from.
hashtracking.com — This is a paid service that will help you identify, track and analyze the hashtags you use in your content marketing activities. It also has a free blog that covers topics related to hashtag use and hosts free, real-time chats called #HashChats.
top-hashtags.com — This is a cool site that displays the top 20,000 hashtags currently in use on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. It also has a section that highlights trending posts on each of those three social media platforms and tables that show recently added and recently updated hashtags for the three services. This information is useful because over time the wording of some hashtags changes in response to news events and style trends.
hashtagdictionary.com — This is a free site that provides user-determined definitions of the subjects covered by a given hashtag. Check out the home page where you’ll find a few of the hashtags that are currently most popular, along with various definitions for each. The nice thing about this site is that it includes the meanings of hashtags in some languages other than English.
Content Curation Platforms
Another way to find good content is to use a content curation platform like scoop.it or paper.li. These provide automatic search features that track down and assemble relevant content for you, based on keywords that you put into the platform. I will write more about content curation platforms in my next post.