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"Hashing" It Out With Twitter

by David Wilder, PBS Creative Services

Twitter has become ubiquitous in our online society. It’s everywhere. This is especially true in our world of marketing and promotion. And being able to understand that conversation is one more key to understanding your viewers.

Enter the hashtag. A hashtag is twitter’s version of the old AOL ”keyword”. It's a text based element proceeded by the number symbol (#) that allows a user to compartmentalize a conversation around a particular topic or subject. In our case, that's around a particular show that we’re promoting. i.e. #SherlockPBS This element can then be used in print, on-air, and online to help drive conversation and viewer engagement.

To follow a conversation around a hashtag is simple. Using your preferred twitter application, type the hashtag into the search field. Twitter.com makes this process very easy. Other, more 'pro user' apps such as TweetDeck or Hootesuite, can track several hashtags at once; allowing you to keep an eye on many topics at the same time.

Twitter’s effect on TV is growing every day and marketing departments need to understand how to harness that power. By adding a branded hashtag to promotional elements, you give your audience a central place for discussion and engagement among online platforms. What's more, a consistent hashtag among many different parties (national office vs local station vs 3rd parties) can help keep the discussion focused where it's needed most. And a rising tide lifts all boats.

What are some of the hashtags you are using at your station? Let us know in the comments below and we'll be sure to share them on @SPI_PBS.

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