As a sports business reporter covering Sacramento’s attempts to keep the Kings, I monitor Twitter throughout the day for mentions of the NBA basketball team.

I want to know what other media outlets are reporting and what supporters and others are saying as the clock ticks down to the team’s potential move to Seattle.

The other week when an editor brought to my attention a significant tweet about the Kings, I was surprised that I had missed it. At least until I noticed that the tweet didn’t use a hashtag or even the word “Kings.” In fact, quite a few Twitter users had not in their Kings-related tweets even used the name of the team.

A year ago when Sacramento was crafting plans for a new downtown arena, use of #NBAKings was prevalent. Most people tweeting about the Kings have gotten away from that hashtag, so even I have switched to just #Kings. But other journalists and Twitter users following the saga aren’t consistently using hashtags. Sometimes they’re not using them at all.

Last week in the HubSpot post, “30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore,” Ellie Mirman wrote that people aren’t using hashtags for organizing tweets as much as they used to. Hashtags are still effective for certain events or campaigns, she wrote.

But when it comes to topic-related hashtags (e.g. #marketing #boston), people don’t really monitor those hashtags, so your organized content is not reaching a new audience,” Mirman wrote. “Using such general hashtags makes you look, once again, like a Twitter newbie who’s trying to game the system.”

I contend that hashtags remain vitally important, especially as the number of users of Twitter escalates and it becomes even harder to cut through all the clutter.

Notice the followers you pick up after using certain hashtags. When I use #tennis when tweeting about the Sacramento Capitals pro tennis team, for example, I gain followers who otherwise never would read my coverage of the Capitals.

People want to find your content and commentary. Use hashtags for the industry sector or subject about which you’re tweeting. Much of the time your instincts about the hashtag to use will be right. When in doubt, look to see if the one you’re considering pops up frequently. A great resource is HashtagBattle.com. The website will show you which of two hashtags is more commonly used and thereby will attract more attention.

By effectively using hashtags, you can strengthen your Twitter presence and have a more rewarding experience on the platform.

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