It’s been thrilling to observe how the use of Twitter by private individuals, media organizations and businesses continues to evolve. And how that evolution accelerates as more and more people get on board and bring fresh ideas to the Twitter tea party. Twitter has come a long way from the days when many people couldn’t imagine it doing anything more than providing geeky social media types a platform for broadcasting inconsequential, verbal snapshots of their daily routines to other geeky social media types hanging out in the Twitter universe.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on the potential use of hashtags for people and businesses and came up with the following thought. Perhaps this or something similar has already occurred to someone else, but I haven’t come across it so far in any of my ramblings through the social media and marketing blogosphere.
Hashtags enable anyone on Twitter to follow a particular topic, provided someone has created a specific hashtag for it. For example, conference organizers are increasingly creating hashtags for events. All tweets relating to the event, either from those in attendance or not, can be viewed in one Twitter feed as long as the Tweet includes the hashtag somewhere in it. A hashtag always starts with the pound sign — #. The reason for this, as far as I can tell, is so it can be indexed and searched by http://hashtags.org/.
This got me thinking. Hashtags can of course be a great tool for people who share a common interest of any kind — conference or otherwise — to keep that community continually informed of relevant news. Let’s take English springer spaniel owners for example. A hashtag could be created for the best places and times to meet up with other owners in their local area or to help them find the best buys on Eukanuba English springer spaniel formula (presuming there is one).
The specificity and local aspect is especially interesting. The hashtag can be written for a narrow topic and for a small geographic area, making the information especially useful and actionable to anyone living there. For example, I could set up #EukenglspringerFFM for people looking for good buys on Eukanuba springer spaniel formula anywhere in the Frankfurt area, where members of that community could continually inform each other of those good buys. Local pet retailers could also use the tag to instantly inform the community of price off promotions or other special offers. Twitter could potentially charge those retailers for commercial “participation” in the hashtag, with an additional charge when a link in the Tweet to the retailer is clicked.
Is anyone aware of consumers, brands or retailers who are already using hashtags in this way? Let me know via a comment. And if you have any builds to this idea, I would love to hear them.