I use Twitter hashtags every day to sort, organize, and closely follow subjects that interest me most. If you frequent the social media scene, too, you’re probably familiar with the hashtag and what it’s used for, but you might not be taking full advantage of this powerful little tool.

For instance, the Friday Follow (#FF) hashtag is used a lot to help introduce and recommend a person’s followers to other esteemed Twitter users. But how often are you actually following up on the recommendations of your peers?

You’ve probably also seen hashtags in the corner of the TV screen while watching your favorite show in an attempt to get fans chatting about current episodes and generating buzz. But are you creating hashtags yourself to get people talking about your business or products?

Top Small Business Hashtags to Follow

If you’re new to Twitter or just don’t get what hashtags are all about, I recommend following a few to see how they can be used. You can start by searching for hashtags on Twitter.com, or you can set your favorite hashtag streams to load automatically in Twitter clients like HootSuite and TweetDeck. Here are some popular small business hashtags you might want to follow:

  • #SMB
  • #SmallBiz
  • #Entrepreneur
  • #Business
  • #Networking
  • #Sales

Using Hashtags in Your Own Tweets

If you send out tweets with these popular hashtags, there’s a good chance you’ll reach a lot more Twitter users with your message.  But you can also create your own hashtags. Tweeting with hashtags gives you the opportunity to promote anything from a your brand to your next special event. Here are some tips for creating and using hashtags:

  • Keep them short, you still only have 140 characters per Tweet. (Think #SmBizIdeas rather than #SmallBusinessTipsandTricks).
  • Don’t use spaces between words – only the characters before a space will be hyperlinked.
  • Only use multiple hashtags when they are relevant to the rest of your Tweet. Using a hashtag just to get attention is a good way to lose followers.

Small Business Twitter Chats

Twitter chats use hashtags to bring Twitter users together at a scheduled time to discuss ideas relevant to a topic. It might be a free-flowing discussion, or the chat might be guided with specific questions designed to spark conversation and debate.

If you’re looking for suggestions, Practical Ecommerce has a relatively up-to-date list of small business chats and the times they run at “23 Twitter Chats for Small Businesses.”

To join a chat, just log on to Twitter at the appropriate time and follow all of the Tweets with the chat’s hashtag. You can sit back and watch, or you can jump into the conversation at any time by using the hashtag to respond to other users.

When you’re ready, schedule your own chat using a new hashtag or any of the ones you use for your small business.

Do you follow small business hashtags or participate in small business chats on Twitter? Which ones do you find are most useful?