How to Get Useful Business Information Out of Twitter: Hashtags for Social Media Research

UPDATE 1-12-12: In talking again about hashtag use for social media sharing and research today, I ran this TwitterVenn diagram to show my colleages the volume around the following hashtags: #social, #socialmedia, #sm. Here is the chart:

tweet volume for social media hashtags: #social, #socialmedia, #sm

+++ here’s the original post +++

Business Research using Twitter hashtagsIf you’ve been using Twitter for a while you understand the concept of hashtags. As someone explained to me, “It’s like a focus point. It tags the post specifically to a topic of interest. And hashtags are used frequently to conduct Tweet-chats on specific topics. There’s even a great app for following a Twitter-based Chat called Tweetchat.

So hashtags are out there for most subjects. And as you begin using Twitter to get your content out there, you will want to start using tags to identify your tweet and allow others to find them. I often use #social, #socialmedia, #marketing, #eHealth, #hcsm in my tweets. But what you will find out is that certain #hashtags are more prone to spammy tweets. And some are more useful for business. The trick is to actually track your target subject hashtags and read some of the river of tweets that is coming through.

Using Tweetdeck I was able to build a real-time tag cloud of two related “social” hashtags to compare the conversational tones.

Looking for social media information using Twitter

And what it looks like to me is the people who are using #socialmedia are less focused on  specific social media strategies and techniques than the people using only #social. And notice that the people using #social are also including #socialmedia, but not the other way around. This is interesting information. So when I’m doing a more technical “using” social media post I will often just use #social. When the post is more general I will use #socialmedia or both.

What are some other great ways to track and learn about hashtags? does a pretty good job of showing who tweeted various hashtags and the trending of the hashtag over time.

Hashtag Chart of Trends

Twitter Search is the search page for

What The Trend is a real-time listing of hashtags. A bit overwhelming at times. You can also follow their Twitter account #wtt to get constant updates. can set up auto-alerts and daily summaries for specific tags. is a directory and for hashtag definitions. And you can define tags that are not listed yet. a realtime monitoring system for any twitter search (like a streaming Tweetdeck online)


ALT TOOLS: fascinating tools that are worth checking out, and could provide an added dash of design to your Twitter presentations.

Twitterfall is a fascinating real-time stream of hashtags that you can geo-locate or use exclusion terms to refine the stream of tweets.

We Feel Fine an amazing visualization for “feeling words” being used on Twitter in real-time.

TwitterVenn create a real-time vinn diagram to compare hashtags or any topic.

Live GIS Map App Mindblowing App to build live Twitter search plotted onto a zoomable map you define.


ManageFlitter the best of all Twitter Follower / Unfollower apps. Shows you who’s gone dark and who’s too tweety.

TwitBlock find out who of your followers are scammers and should be blocked. (Warning, it will lower your follower count. But it will keep it real, too.)

FriendorFollow nice tool for seeing who’s unfollowing and who’s not following back.

It’s important to get out there and read the social media threads that you are posting to. Hashtag tools are a great way to see what the conversation is like before you jump in and say something that doesn’t fit.

Keep it social and let me know if I can help socialize your business results.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Check out the Social Media for Business page and these other posts about learning social media:

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