This post by Katie Williams is an entry to our $4,000 Blogging Contest. Katie serves as the International Marketing Manager of eFaqt, an education-tech startup in Amsterdam. She uses Hashtagify to analyze trending hashtags, and evaluate the success of various marketing campaigns.
In today’s hyper-connected world it’s not enough to be well-connected in “real life”; if you seek to truly stand out in your field, you must also carefully curate your online presence. In this post, I’ll show you a real world example of how you can mine hashtag data to tailor your tweets with the right hashtags, mention the right people, and set yourself up to become an influencer in your field.
In the past, professionals from various sectors would convene at in-person conventions only a few times a year to discuss the latest findings and trends in public; now, those conversations are often open on Twitter 24/7. Hashtags are the glue that holds these conversations together, and keeps them going on a specific topic. You can use hashtags to both analyze what’s going on and to jump into the debate in real-time.
I work for a startup in the education space. In this example, I’ll show you how I used hashtagify.me to identify the right hashtags and the top influencers on Twitter, to engage with those influencers, and even to interview them. Keep in mind that you can follow these steps for any field, or specialization.
Step 1: Define your niche: #education is too broad
It is vital to define your niche. Education is a very broad topic, and I found out that the most obvious hashtags, #edu and #education, are too generic for my goal of becoming a Twitter influencer.
One great way to find out how your niche is divided on Twitter is to do a basic hashtag search using Hashtagify’s free service. As you can see in the image below, #edu (education) has a lot of areas, but many of the smaller niches aren’t going to show up in the top 10 related hashtags. Luckily, using CyBranding Hashtag Intelligence, the premium counterpart to hashtagify.me, I was able to dive deeper and find #edtech, which is nicely tailored to my interests.
So, be sure to hone in on your exact specialty so you can become a top influencer in the field that best defines your passions.
Step 2: Determine influencers in your field
When I first started teaching, it was rare to find fellow educators on Twitter. However, in the past few years, educators have flocked to Twitter in record numbers to share best practices and top news. Again using Hashtag Intelligence, I’ve tracked nearly a million tweets for #edtech in the past 70 days alone. Now, I want to find which influencers are the most active on Twitter.
Finding the top influencers is easy: Simply click on the “influencers” tab for your hashtag, and get ready to pull some amazing data. On Hashtagify you’ll find the top 6, while with Hashtag Intelligence I was able to get the top 50.
Step 3: Find individual influencers
After doing a bit more research, I see that the top three influencers for #edtech are all organizations. Don’t forget to follow top organizations, too, because they share high-quality content that you can re-share to your followers. However, there are a few non-organization accounts in the top 10, and they are even more interesting for me since I want to connect with individuals who are passionate about #edtech.
So I reached out to @shellterrell, a super educator, with a super Twitter presence. She’s the number one individual influencer for #edtech, according to the last 70 days’ data. I learned that Shelly has trained teachers in over 20 countries, and even founded the Twitter chat #edchat. I asked Shelly about her top tip for those new to Twitter. She said it’s all about the hashtags. Shelly mentioned that she finds stuff she loves online, and then shares via Twitter by using the appropriate hashtags.
— Katie Williams (@fiberopticnow) January 15, 2014
Shelly contributes on Twitter everyday using these hashtags when sharing different content gems she’s found. By the way, Shelly has over 46,000 followers on Twitter, so definitely heed her words of advice! Listen to her own words in the video that she shared on Twitter via Instagram below:
Find More Relevant Hashtags for your Field
Shelly was kind enough to mention some other amazing educational Twitterers whom I could contact. Because Shelly founded #edchat, another top hashtag for education, I decided to dig deeper into this hashtag, too. #Edchat is a Twitter chat for educators, and those interested in chatting about education-related topics. Unlike many other Twitter chats, #edchat does not have a specific meeting time, but rather asks educators to engage with others frequently, yet meaningfully in this professional learning network.
I was able to find #edchat influencers using Cybranding Hashtag Intelligence. According to Hashtagify’s data from the past 70 days, the top influential individual for #edchat is @tomwhitby. The second most influential individual for #edchat, whom Shelly also recommended to me to, is @cybraryman1, who has over 38,000 dedicated followers on Twitter.
Jerry Blumengarten, aka @cybraryman1, is an educator, speaker, writer, and moderator of #edchat. Jerry says if you want to engage more on Twitter, it’s imperative that you find hashtags for various subdivisions of your sector. For education, he mentions following hashtags for one’s specific subject area, grade level, and/or state.
This is also easy to do for other fields. Simply narrow down your topic into sub-fields. For example, perhaps #arted (art education) suits you better than #education as an art teacher, or #elemchat (elementary chat) makes more sense for you than #highered (higher education). As you can see, it’s important to find the specialized hashtags that will work best for you. Check out Jerry’s awesome Twitter tips he shared via Instagram below:
Nicholas Provenzano, @thenerdyteacher, another top #edchat influencer, and friend of both @ShellTerell and @cybraryman1 was named the ISTE Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2013. Nicholas chimed in on our discussion to advocate for authenticity on Twitter. The Nerdy Teacher has over 33,000 followers on Twitter, and makes a very authentic case for authenticity in his Vine below:
Step 4: Build connections, drive engagement
Now that you’ve found the most interesting hashtags and influencers, it’s time to be persistent and consistent in your engagement on Twitter. According to Ekaterina Walter, a social media strategist at Intel, there are a few ways to effectively engage on Twitter.
● Tweet consistently
- Just like Shelly mentioned, it’s important to tweet each day using a wide range of hashtags for your field. Consider setting aside time throughout the day to peruse content, and tweet. If you find yourself tweeting at various times throughout the day, you might want to consider using a tweet scheduling app to schedule your tweets in advance.
● Connect people
- Sometimes it can be daunting reaching out to Twitterers with follower-counts in the tens-of-thousands like our #edtech and #edchat heroes you saw earlier, but you’ll be surprised how kind people are, and how excited specialists are to connect with others in their field. However, don’t forget to return the favor. Connect others on Twitter, and the good karma will keep on flowing.
- It’s also important to connect with upcoming influencers in your field. Some real Twitter gems have less than a few thousand followers, but share amazing content. Connect lesser-known Twitterers with one another when you know they share mutual interests, and could benefit from one another’s content.
● Promote others
- When you come across a Twitterer that continuously shares awesome content, don’t be afraid to share them on #ThankfulThursday or #FF (Follow Friday). Simply add the person’s username to your tweet, and use the appropriate hashtags (see example below)
— Katie Williams (@fiberopticnow) January 17, 2014