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Think of two times when you attended speeches. One just a “here’s the info, thanks for coming” speech, the other a speech that included a Q and A session afterwards. The Q and A speech is quite a different experience, isn’t it? The audience adds their own knowledge, introduces tangents that the speaker may have ignored, and questions the assumptions of the speaker. It can get quite spirited!

Journalists for print or online magazines and newspapers can offer this conversational opportunity to their audience with the help of social media, specifically Twitter. Even if you are one of the Twitter hold-outs it’s time to recognize that the majority of your audience is trolling through tweets all day long and enjoy a Twitter component to most of the media aspects of their day. So it’s time to jump on the Twitter bandwagon!

Adding Hashtags

We’re all familiar with the idea of tweeting to tell your followers about a new article, blogpost, etc. with your byline:

Check out my article about journalists linking print & online platforms

True, readers can click through to read the article but after that it’s “The End”. How can you connect your readers and let them contribute to the article? Hashtags. By including a hashtag — # — and a keyword you can link your readers to all the tweets related to your article’s subject:

Check out my article about journalists linking print & online platforms #hashtags

By clicking on #hashtags, readers can view every tweet that included #hashtags and by adding #hashtags to their tweet they can be included in the conversation.

Twitter Invitations

You don’t have to just rely on people scrolling through your Twitter feed. Use your article to invite readers to the conversation. End your article with an invite to follow the subject online:

Want to give your 2 cents worth about linking print and online platforms? Check out the #hashtags tweets and tell us what you think about technical writers using hashtags in articles.

Live Event Tweets

Hashtags can help you do some quick research while covering a live event. While at a conference, news event, or other live event search Twitter for tweets with hashtags related to the event. For example at this year’s Book Expo America check for #bookexpo, #bookexpo2012, #BEA, #BEA2012 to keep up-to-date on the spontaneous things happening that you won’t want to miss. You can also return the favor for your fellow attendees by tweeting what you uncover. Tweets with hashtags can also help those unable to attend feel like they’re actually there as they follow events in real time, instead of hearing about them in a round-up article at the end of the day.

Surprise announcement from #MargoCandela! Switching genres from chicklit to sci fi! #BEA

Hashtag Mania

One tip for adding hashtags to your tweets. Don’t go overboard! There are entire tweet feeds about including too many hashtags in one tweet. Settle on one or two hashtags – the most popular ones — for each tweet:

#StephenKing challenges Kevin Lake to a duel on 2nd floor Javits Center! #BEA


#StephenKing challenges #KevinLake to a #duel on 2nd floor #JavitsCenter! #BEA #BookExpo

Social media can be the key to turning an article into a conversation. Reach out to your readers using hashtags!

Note: Apologies to Margo Candela, Stephen King, and Kevin Lake who are neither switching genres nor dueling!

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot /