20 Jan Practice Builders on Twitter: Using Hashtags Effectively
It’s a fact of Twitter: If you want to use the social media platform as a practice builder, you’re going to have to use a few hashtags. Noted with the “#” symbol in front of them, these words and phrases are Twitter’s way of gathering relevant content following similar topics. And while some hashtags are silly (for example, your coworker’s use of the #needcoffee tag won’t help your healthcare marketing), others are powerful tools to use as part of your social media plan.
Here, we’ll look at the different ways hashtags can positively impact your practice — and how you can effectively track and manage your tags over time. Read on!
How do hashtags work as practice builders?
First, it’s important to note what hashtags are actually designed to do. Think of the bread aisle in the grocery store; while you might have some variability in the exact type of bread you see on the shelves, everything that is classified as bread can be found along that aisle. Following with that line of thought, hashtags are used to gather tweets about a certain topic. That way, anyone who clicks the hashtag or searches for it on Twitter’s search engine can find an aggregate thread of discussions.
The “#” sign is Twitter’s way of noting when a hashtag is beginning — for instance, if we’re following through with our bread analogy, the #bread hashtag would give us all the things people are saying about rye, wheat, gluten, and so on. So, how can they work for you as practice builders?
Hashtags allow your practice’s Twitter account to enter the conversations already happening online. If your practice is tweeting about specific topics like migraines, for instance, using the #migraine tag allows your practice to be a part of the thread other users see when they search for that tag. This can translate into more views of your brand, and greater page views if you’re also including a link back to information on your practice’s website — and those practice builders can have a ripple effect, capturing the attention of search engines like Google.
Manage your tweets, and use your resources.
There are resources available online to view which hashtags are active, and which are trending. The best one to use as a practice builder right now is Symplur, which hosts the Healthcare Hashtag Project. This invaluable page shows you which tags are trending, which is important to keep in mind as you’re planning your content. A few tags are always constants, including #BCSM (Breast Cancer Social Media), #eldercarechat, #HCR (Healthcare Reform), and #MedEd (Medical Education).
While you can hashtag tweets at any time, it’s important to note that certain tags are more active at different times of the day. For instance, #BCSM becomes an active conversation every Monday at 9 p.m. EST or 6 p.m. PST. What this means is that a greater number of users will view your tweets if you target them during peak conversation times, which can translate into better practice builders overall.
It might seem intimidating to throw yourself into the mix of things, especially if you’re tying to use practice builders like hashtag conversations. Fortunately, platforms like Tweet Deck and Hootsuite allow you to manage your social media accounts, and actually schedule tweets ahead of time. That way, you can build up a list of tweets related to certain hashtags you want to target at peak hours, and schedule your posts to participate in the larger conversation.