Twitter Lingo for Wine Geeks (Part II: #Hashtags)

If you managed to survive our last post on how to find and follow wine twitters,  your’re ready to dive into our next topic, #hashtags, so lets get down to business.

Today we’ll dig into using #hashtags efficiently so that you get the most out of what they have to offer.

THE BASICS

Twitter Lingo for Wine Geeks: In simple terms, think of a hashtag as a means to create “groupings” on Twitter to organize your comments so that others can find them later. In other words, let’s say you have a file cabinet at your office and you want to name a folder “Zinfandel” and file it under “Z”. Simple enough, right?

Well on Twitter, a “hashtag” is sort of like a file cabinet on steroids – similar filing concept, but its digital. Adding the pound (#) sign before any word is like filing it away to find it later.

By now, you’ve probably noticed some posts that contain words with a ‘hash’ or ‘pound’ symbol (#).  Tweeters call these #hashtags, and they can show up anywhere in the tweet:

Well, that’s just great, but why should I care?

Using hashtags helps you build your audience and community. How can that be? Simple. When you use hashtags, other twitter users (who don’t necessarily follow you) will find you through the Twitter search mechanism and other third party tracking tools (we’ll get to that later).  Also, you’ll want to use these tools to discover new people to follow.

WHO USES HASTAGS?

Hashtags are favorite tools for identifying people, things, and events. Twitter winos might use them to tell their friends and followers about their favorite wines and events, whereas wine professionals might use them for educational purposes, promoting products and announcing events (and of course, building their relationships with followers).

Another good way to use them is for wine events and conferences.  Event organizers, bloggers and wine writers will use them to status what’s happening during an event. Alder over at Vinography used them to report on the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in Oregon. Here is an example of a tweet from him during the event: @vinography: Standing ovation in celebration of the life of David Lett #IPNC

It’s sort of reminds you of a live text feed of events as they happen.

HOW TO USE HASHTAGS

Suppose you are a Zinfandel fan and you want to tweet about it. Here is an example: Just tasted a delicious @sobonwine “Rocky Top” #zinfandel from Amador County. Highly recommend it!

When you tweet this message, the word #zinfandel turns into a clickable link so that you (and others) can find it later from the twitter search page:

…and the more a hashtag is used, the more likely the topic will appear in Twitter’s worldwide Trending Topics. Just recently, twitter launched a location-based trending topic called “Local Trends” but it’s just getting off the ground and only select cities are listed.

HOW NOT TO USE WINE HASHTAGS ON TWITTER

Is there really a wrong way to use #hashtags on twitter? As Palin would say, “You betcha“. Now the world won’t come crashing down if you misuse or abuse them, but my word of caution is not to get carried away with them. Its good to use one or two (three at the most) #hashtags per message, but any more than that and you might come off as a spammer to your audience.

Here is an example you should avoid: Just found a great #zinfandel #wine in #portland at #traderjoes for $10 bucks. What a #deal!

Remember, be selective using hashtags!

TRACKING HASHTAGS

The real value in following wine related hashtags is discovering new twitters to follow, hence building your brand and developing new relationships.

If you are looking for an easy way to track one hashtag at a time, use the twitter search page.

1. Go to Twitter Search.
2. Type “#” followed by a keyword.  Here is a search result for #wine.
3. Refresh the page periodically to see the latest results.

If you are looking for advanced ways to track hashtags, there are many third party tracking applications.  Many allow you to follow multiple keywords – Twitterfall is a good example.

So let’s say I want to track hashtags #sonoma, #zinfandel, #ZAP. You’ll simply add these keywords in the Twitterfall search term box, and Ta Da! you’ll get the results:

There are also tools that track #hashtag popularity. Let’s say you’d like to research stats on the hashtag #wine. Go to “What the Hashtag?”, which is a user-editable encyclopedia for hashtags found on twitter. Type “wine”  from the search box and the returned results will show up from the last 7 days, including # of tweets and top contributors:

From here you can see the list of the top ten contributors using the hashtag “wine”, e.g. @seriouslywine used the term 109 times over the last week on twitter.

In one week, the term “wine” was tweeted 4,157 times by 1,645 contributors, averaging 593.9 tweets per day. That’s a lot of tweeting going on!

This tool also has advanced stats such as how many of these tweets were retweeted (we’ll cover this in a follow-up post), how many mentioned the tweet and how many contained multiple hashtags.

This might be more information than you care to know, but if you need it, it’s there….So there you have it – a few basic ways to track trending #hashtags!

USEFUL WINE #HASHAGS

This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but it will give you an idea of what sort of hashtags are used and for what purpose:

Events
#EWBC – European Wine Bloggers Conference
#WBC – Wine Bloggers Conference
#ZAP – Zinfandel Advocates & Producers
#IPNC – International Pinot Noir Celebration
#WineForHaiti – Wine for Haiti
#SWF – Sun WineFest

Tastings
#ttl – Twitter Taste Live
#twebt – Twitter Event Blind Tasting
#thewinemakers – The WineMakers TV
#wineconclave
#calicabs

Public Relations
#Winepr

Twitter specific events & initiatives
#followfriday – AKA #FF
#winewednesday
#wineliteracy
#saturdaysips and #sundaysips AKA #SS (a shameless plug for our own hashtags!)

Wine Trivia
#VinQ – Wine Trivia Twitter game (…another shameless plug for our own hashtag)

Unrelated to wine but used throughout the wine community:
#bacon
#foodporn

Varieties:
#cabernet
#chardonnay
#merlot
#pinot
#sauvignonblanc
#zinfandel

Geography-based:
#argentina #wine
#australia #wine
#champagne
#chateauneufdupape
#chile #wine
#FLXwine
#Friuli
#germany #wine
#Israel
#mendoza
#montrachet
#napa
#New Zealand #wine
#oregonwine
#Piedmont
#pomerol
#portugal #wine
#rheingau
#rhone
#sonoma
#southafrica #wine
#spain #wine
#stestephe
#Tuscany
#Washington #wine

This raps up our lesson for the day. Stay tuned for our next post: Using Twitter @Retweets, a.k.a. RT.

Until then, be sure to hit us up with hashtag comments:
•    How are YOU using Hashtags?
•    What shouldn’t they be used for?
•    What hashtags have you created?
•    Which tracking programs do YOU use?