What is a #Hashtag?

#hashtagsHashtags started life on Twitter but have started cropping up all over the web.

What are Hashtags?

They provide Twitter users with a way to add context to their tweets. Here’s some examples:

Tweeting about a TV program or sporting event, like the olympic opening ceramony

Tweeting from a conference like The Social Recruiting Conference

Taking part in a contest run by a consumer brand

Tweets relevant to a particular location or town, like Reading

You can turn any word into a hashtag simply by putting the # symbol ahead of it. You can’t have any spaces or special characters in a hashtag.

Before using a hashtag for the first time, it’s worth looking to see how people use it. Run a search on Twitter for your chosen tag to see if it is being used and how.

I have used #rdg as an example above. #Reading is already being used by book lovers all over the world so it would make no sense to use it to talk about traffic, weather or events local to the town of Reading in Berkshire. Residents have chosen to use #rdg instead.

This shows how important it is to check a hashtag before using it. By using a hashtag, you are making yourself a part of an online community.

How are recruiters using hashtags?

1. Learning

Twitter chats are a great way to learn. A Twitter chat is a discussion that takes place at a predetermined time using a hashtag to help participants keep track of the debate. Popular Twitter Chats for recruiters include; #TalentNet #TChat #HFChat #JobHuntChat #CareerChat.

Recruiters also use hashtags to share relevant links and information all the time, like: #socialrecruiting and #uksourcers.

2. Sourcing

Hashtags are great for spotting people in other industries doing exactly what recruiters are doing above and more.

Just last week I discovered that nurses have a fortnightly Twitter chat on the tag #NTtwitChat.


This sort of things goes on in many industries. Do you know if there is a Twitter chat for users in your market places?

You can also track events happening in your niche. For example, there is a meetup of the London Ruby Users Group today. You can track who is attending using the #LRUG hashtag.

3. Advertising, Promotion and Branding

This option is much more tricky as it’s very easy for an inexperienced Twitter user to look like a spammer when they try to use a hashtag to promote a job.

There was a time when the #rdg hashtag was flooded by recruiters trying to promote jobs in the Reading area. This might make sense to us as recruiters and sourcers but those Tweets were only relevant to very few Reading residents – only a small percentage would be looking for a job at all and even fewer would be appropriate for it. It can actually be quite damaging to the brand of a recruitment business. Something like #rdgjobs, promoted very occasionally on the main #rdg tag would have been a better strategy.

The same happens when you take an industry hashtag to promote jobs, you can end up displacing the original users of the tag, making your efforts pointless. Better to invent your own tag and promote it occasionally on the main tag.

Hashtags like #jobs, #job and #careers are very popular, but are used so much that it makes it unlikely your one job would be seen. They can still be useful though as job seekers can team up the hashtag with an industry, skill or location keyword to find jobs relevant to them.

Using Hashtags with your non-job content is probably most important.

Research tags and find one that has a community and content relevant to what you are planning to share. You want to be enriching a community by providing genuinely useful and interesting content.

If you are using a tool like bit.ly or hootsuite to shorten links to your content then you will see what content gets the most clicks. Most people find that hashtags greatly increase engagement factors like clicks, retweets and @replies.

How are you using Hashtags?

5 Things Not To Do When You Join Twitter

Twitter "Keep Calm" Poster - by Manish Mansinh on BehanceTwitter is great if you are starting to explore Social Media or looking to learn more about Sourcing. It has been instrumental as part of my professional development and led to virtually all my business, one way or another. Twitter has helped me discover loads of useful content and meet many very smart people.

I had the luxury of learning how to use Twitter when it was a much quieter, more relaxed place. There were hardly any businesses or celebrities yet – I remember the day that Stephen Fry joined. There was no pressure to be getting “ROI” out of it – it was just a fun way to connect with like minded people.

It seems easy to succumb to these pressures now and end up not getting the most out of this fantastic platform.

So, when you join Twitter, please don’t…

Excessively tweet links to jobs

The Problem: Lisa Jones of Barclay Jones recently wrote about this problem on the UK recruiter blog, I recommend having a read. While Job tweets are of interest to active job seekers, the majority of people are not actively looking for a new job and might need a more subtle approach. Plus – it’s REALLY BORING!

What to do instead: While jobs are a very easy thing to tweet when you are a beginner, you do have a wealth of experience in your industry and in recruitment – why not demonstrate this on Social Media? Take a look at this list of 20 things for recruiters and sourcers to tweet about. You could always set up a separate Twitter account that just tweets links to job, but be clear that this is all it does and let followers know how they can actually talk to you.

Follow loads of people at once

The Problem: Following people is probably the best way to get their attention, so don’t waste it. When you first join Twitter, you won’t have said much and you won’t be entirely sure what you are doing. If someone follows me and they haven’t tweeted yet then I am unlikely to follow them back as I don’t know what I will be signing up for. The same goes for someone that has only Tweeted five times – I don’t know if that person is just dipping their toe in the birdbath or if they will stick with it.

What to do instead: Lay low for a week or two. Get your profile looking good with a well written bio and a profile picture. You should also get some Tweets under your belt and learn how the lingo works. Follow a few colleagues or people that you know use Twitter well (aim for about 20 people) that way you can learn from what they do – what sort of Tweets do you like to get in your stream? Once you have found your feet, take Twitter to the next level and follow some more people. Rince and repeat.

Thoughtlessly connect Twitter with LinkedIn and/or Facebook

The Problem: It’s very easy to think that you are saving time and being very efficient by sending all your tweets to LinkedIn or all your Facebook updates to Twitter, but it creates all kinds of jarring issues that newbies will find confusing and experienced Twitter users will find annoying. The language used on each of the platforms is different and Facebook and LinkedIn will allow you longer format updates than Twitter.

What to do instead: It is a minefield that I recommend avoiding. If you must do it, be sure to dive into the settings on LinkedIn and Facebook and understand what you’re really sharing and when. I have written about the problem of sending your LinkedIn updates to Twitter before.

Drop Tweet Bombs

The Problem: I read lots of posts about “doing social media” in 10 minutes per day and the like. While it is possible, it seems that most people think you should send out an entire day’s worth of tweets all at once. This will totally take over your followers’ Twitter streams. That is considered a bit rude in Twitterville.

What to do instead: I’d recommend using a tool like buffer to spread your Tweets out through the day. Also, if you decide to have your jobs or blog posts sent to Twitter automatically via an app like twitterfeed or dlvr.it – please dive into the settings and make sure that it won’t tweet 10 jobs at once. If you are unsure what you are doing – don’t do it!

Turn every word into a #Hashtag

The Problem: It is very simple – tweets containing lots of hashtags are difficult to read, eyeballs skip right over them. If your tweet looks fugly – I’m not clicking on the link!

The Solution: Hashtags are an important way to get noticed when you start out on Twitter, so don’t be put off using them. Keep hashtags to a minimum, one or two is usually plenty. If you want to use more then maybe try some A B Testing to see which works best – does a tweet with #jobs get more clicks and reactions than a tweet with #careers? You should ALWAYS check how a hashtag is being used already, if at all, before including it.

Do you have any Dos and Don’ts for Twitter newbies? Let us know in the comments 🙂

You might also find useful:
Twitter Tip: Replies and Mentions are not the same
Using Twitter for Recruiting – A Presentation from The FIRM’s Direct Sourcing event in Dec 2011

20 Things For Recruiters And Sourcers To Tweet About

Twitter Bird SketchA lot of people tell me that they’re not sure what to say on Twitter, or that they don’t think they have ANYTHING worthwhile to tweet.

With Twitter announcing it has 10 million active UK users, you’re probably thinking that you’d like to get into using it, if you’re not already. If you can’t quite find your voice, these suggestions might help you get started.

The most important things to think about are your followers and your objectives

Who do you want to follow you?

Make your tweets interesting or useful to them. Think about your candidates, industry colleagues and peers, clients or other stakeholders.

Why have you signed up to a social site like Twitter?

Do you want to get more clients, find more candidates, make friends, meet new people in your area, learn about something, or all of the above?

Answers to these two questions will help you generate ideas of what to talk about. Here are some of my thoughts, not all of them will suit you, your followers or your objectives.

If you tweet as a brand:

Links to job vacancies
This is probably what a job seeker really wants. It’s not very engaging to someone passive though. A lot of brands find it helpful to have two twitter accounts. One sending out only jobs and the other for conversation and other interesting tweets. It’s important to be transparent to your followers – if one twitter account tweets nothing but jobs, make that clear and tell people where they can interact with you elsewhere. e.g. @TescoCareers and @Get2KnowTesco

Make the most of Twitter Memes like #FollowFriday and #CharityTuesday
#FollowFriday has probably been around for as long as the hashtag itself! Mentioning a person and adding this hashtag lets your followers know that they might want to follow that person. It is often shortened to #ff. e.g

Does your business support a charity? The #CharityTuesday tag has a big community of fundraisers and charity types – they will probably retweet you and generally share the love if you talk about your charity work or give a shout-out to the Twitter account of a charity you support (on a Tuesday, of course). e.g.

Links to blog posts or other useful social content from your company
Does your company have a blog (or several)? You might have a YouTube channel already. This is great content with real human voices from inside your business. You can share this with your twitter followers by tweeting links to this content.

Answer questions
If your followers aren’t sending you questions yet, search for people asking some that you might be able to help with. Alternatively, you could tweet the answers to questions that you often get asked by candidates during the recruitment process.

Interesting industry news
What are the best sources of news in your industry? Who are the biggest bloggers? Subscribe to their RSS feeds (I recommend using Google Reader for this) and pick out the best news to tweet for your followers.

Every industry has conferences, expos and networking events. Are you sponsoring one? Is someone from your company going to be speaking at an event? Are your employees going to be attending? Find out if the event has a Twitter account and/or a #hashtag then interact with the event and other attendees on Twitter. Ask those going to the event to send you a photo or send some tweets from the company account. If they’re tweeting from the event, do they mind being retweeted by you?

Local Info
Are you based in one particular location? Are your offices based in one country or are you global? If you are based in one place, tweeting about local news can make you seem more real and engage the local community. If you are a global brand, showcasing this with views from your different offices or details about local holidays can really highlight your diversity.

Awards and Achievements
What is your company great at? Have you got any awards? Have you just won a great contract? Let your Twitter followers share in your celebration. e.g.

Competitions or freebies
This can work well if you want to grow a following more quickly. Offer people something in exchange for following you or in exchange for tweeting about something. Make sure you target the right people though – a tweet in exchange for an industry white paper can work well. Take a look at Pay with a Tweet.

If you tweet as a human being

Talk to your peers and industry thought leaders
Twitter is a great way to network. If you’re engaging with well-networked individuals in your industry then they’re more likely to help you out or recommend you when someone is looking for a new job.

What you are working on today
Are you looking for Supply Chain experts or are you arranging interviews for Product Managers? It will help people get a feel for what you do and the kind of people you recruit for. The occasional tweet like this is a very subtle way of reminding people what you do.

Your passions
People respond to passion. I get far more @replies when I talk about things like Star Trek, Cheese or Percy Pig sweets because people know I’m passionate about those things. It’s also easier to speak to someone for the first time if it’s not about something work related. Once you’ve exchanged tweets about a charity or good cause, it’s more likely you’ll talk again about something work related next time.

Your thoughts and opinions on hot topics or industry issues
When sharing links to news and blogs you can add your own thoughts, this helps set you up as an expert too. Add value with your own insights rather than just tweeting a link and a headline.

Answer questions
People remember those that help them out, even if you only point them to someone else that will be able to help them. Be helpful whenever you can on Twitter.

Ask questions
People love to feel helpful. Ask people to recommend a tool or for their opinion on a topic of interest. Try not to ask something that’s easy to find out on Google though – that’s just lazy.

Join in with an event’s backchannel on Twitter by tweeting other attendees and sharing your thoughts with the event’s #hashtag. This will help grow your Twitter network with relevant industry people and meet more people face to face. A “nice to meet you” tweet can encourage a mutually beneficial Twitter follow.

Are you off out to celebrate a big placement? Is there cake in the office because it’s someone’s birthday? Tell the world – and don’t forget to take a picture of that cake!

Sharing life’s minute detail might seem trivial, but it’s what adds up to make a person real. You’d be surprised how much response I get when I tweet something mundane about my socks!

Twitter Chats
Twitter Chats usually centre around a hashtag and take place at the same time every week. A tool like Twubs can help you keep up with the tweets and send your own thoughts. You might be interested in #JobHuntChat, #CareerChat, #HFChat (Hire Friday) or #CHRChat (Connecting HR).

Different things appeal to different people and unless you start tweeting you won’t find out what your followers respond to. You also need to embrace the fact that it might take some time for people to notice you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it leaves you free to make mistakes, experiment and generally push the limits on what to share without annoying anyone. You might just stumble on something great!

What works for you on Twitter?