With over 200 million users, Twitter is an increasingly valuable tool for reaching new supporters and enhancing brand recognition. So how can your organization reach outside of its immediate followers and tap into that pool of 200 million users? One key lies in the strategic use of hashtags.

What on earth is a hashtag?

For those less familiar with the Twitterverse, hashtags are akin to keywords. Created as a way to group information on Twitter, hashtags allow you to categorize the 40,000+ Tweets that happen every minute.

To create a hashtag, just place the hash symbol (#) before any word or phase. The hashtag can go anywhere in your Tweet.

Ride Existing Trends! Expanding Your Organization’s Reach on Twitter

By strategically incorporating trending hashtags into your organization’s Tweets, your organization can easily increase its reach on Twitter. Here’s how:

  1. Find out what’s trending by visiting search.twitter.com or whatthetrend.com, a website dedicated to tracking and defining trends.
  2. Take advantage of existing trends by incorporating a trending hashtag into your Tweet!

For example: During the last week of 2010, #2010was and #iprefer were both trending topics for several days. Either hashtag could have been easily worked into any organization’s Tweets:

#iprefer a world where everyone is equal. Tell your senator to support XYZ policy: YOUR LINK

#2010Was the year that @YourOrg supporters sent 700K letters in support of #equality: YOUR LINK

How exactly does riding an existing trend expand your organization’s reach on Twitter?

Users monitor the hashtags they care about. If a hashtag is trending, that means it is one of the most popular hashtags currently being used on Twitter. In other words, thousands of people are actively using (and likely monitoring) that particular hashtag! By Tweeting with that hashtag, you’ve broken out of your organization’s direct circle of followers and inserted yourself into a new, wider audience.

When someone monitoring the trending hashtag sees your organization’s Tweet and retweets it to one of their own followers, your organization’s circle expands to include their followers as well.

Want more Twitter advice? Check out “Nonprofit Organizing in 140 Characters or Less.”

Questions about Twitter and your organization? Email Megan at myarbrough@mrss.com