When I had a whopping 2 people I was following on Twitter, reading my Twitter stream was no big deal. But as I found more and more people to follow, I couldn’t keep up. Had it not been for the recommendation of one of my “tweeps” (it still amazes me how there is an entire language built around Twitter), I probably would have called this whole Twitter thing a wash and moved on.
The wealth of information on Twitter is in many ways much more beneficial to bloggers (and homeschoolers) than Facebook could ever manage. But, Twitter requires a little more organizing than Facebook to keep it under control and useful. That’s why you have to use something like TweetDeck or HootSuite to manage your Twitter stream. Otherwise, you will drown in that stream.
I prefer TweetDeck, but the benefit of HootSuite also interfacing with your Facebook account may be more beneficial to you. (There is another one called Seesmic specifically for mobile devices, but I don’t know much about it). The one thing all of these offer that will help you tremendously is the ability to create lists and follow individual hashtags.
For the homeschool blogger, hashtags are the golden ticket to finding information, businesses to work with, and projects to work on. It’s also a great way to interact with other bloggers and homeschool moms – our best resources for inspiration and encouragement!
What is a hashtag, you wonder?
Hashtags are the way information is grouped on Twitter. Some hashtags are just nonsense, but most are purposeful and give each tweet a specific category. Let me give you a few instances and then we’ll talk about setting up your hashtags on TweetDeck or HootSuite.
Say you’ve done a great homeschool project and you’ve blogged about it. In 140 characters or less, you give a quick blurb about it, link to the post and attach a hashtag. Which do you choose? How about #homeschool or #hsbloggers or #gifted? Maybe you have a giveaway going on at your blog. You add the hashtag #giveaway. With that hashtag, it automatically shows up in that particular Twitter stream and everyone who follows that stream will see it.
So, how do you follow a Twitter hashtag?
Quick Tutorial for HootSuite:
Click on Add Stream
When the Add Stream window pops up, click on the Keyword tab, and type in your hashtag
Click ADD and the stream is automatically added to your dashboard.
Quick Tutorial for TweetDeck:
Use TweetDeck online if using Chrome browser or download to your desktop. Click on Add Column.
When the window pops up, click on Search and type in the hashtag you are looking for.
Click Add Column in the lower right hand corner of the pop-up window and the column will automatically be added to your TweetDeck.
Once you have all the hashtags you want, you can rearrange them to suit your tastes.
What do you do with hashtags once you have them?
1. Use them to find information. This could be everything from something fun to try in your homeschool to when the next homeschool conference is.
2. Find ways to collaborate. Interactions on twitter hashtags can lead to ways you can work with other bloggers and homeschool companies. You find out about promotions and memes and link ups this way.
3. Stay on the cutting edge. Twitter is the place to find the latest blogging and homeschool news. If you are watching the right hashtags, you won’t have to search as hard for the information you need.
Here are a few hashtags you might want to follow (in alphabetical order):