Whether you use them or not, hashtags are prevalent on Twitter.  Smart businesses can use hashtags to their advantage to boost their brands on Twitter.  In case you've been wondering how you can use these #keywords to get more mileage out of your corporate Twitter feed, below are some starting points about how to promote your business through Twitter hashtags.

Twitter hashtags are a way for Twitter users to organize their tweets in specific topics.  They first became popular during the 2007 San Diego wildfire with the hashtag #sandiegofires.  The most popular hashtags are conferences, events, natural disasters and jokes.

Before you jump on the hashtag bandwagon, it's best to know what the current popular hashtags are.  Hashtag trends come and go, so to use your hashtags in the most effective way, it's best to keep up with these trends.  To find out which hashtags are popular at any given time, you can check out What the Trend, Twubs, Hashtags.org, and Tagalus.  Some resources, like What the Trend, will explain popular hashtags, while other websites, like Hashtags.org, are more focused on real time data for popular hashtags.  With these websites, you'll have sufficient knowledge of what hashtags have high followers.

It makes sense for a business to hashtag their tweets about conferences and events that they are attending so that their tweets will pop up in the feed of people following these popular hashtags.  But businesses can take it even further and research niche hashtags related to their specialty.   For example: take notice of the tags being used by your followers and then search those tags on Twitter to see what kind of tweets are associated with your follower's tags. 

A company can also keep track of these hashtags (or any other niche tag) by setting up a Twilert to get a daily email of the use of a specific hashtag.  If you start to use a niche hashtag, make sure to briefly explain your hashtag in a single tweet so that others know what the hashtag means.  Also, if you pair a niche, low-follower hashtag, with a popular, high-follower hashtag, more people will view your niche hashtag and therefore increase the popularity of the tag.  It will also help explain the meaning of your niche tag.

Now that you have a combination of high-follower tags along with niche specific tags for your business, you need a way to organize your hashtags.  One way to do this is to map your hashtags.  By mapping hashtags across relevance and popularity, you can clearly see which tags will be the most effective in tweets.  Hashtags that are highly followed and highly relevant to your business are going to be the most useful tags. Conversely, tags that are not relevant or highly followed will be the least effective for your business.  Mapping will also give you a clearer picture of which hashtags to pair together.

You don't want your hashtag efforts to go to waste by your tweets appearing as spam, so here are a few tips to make sure that doesn't happen.  First, don't put too many hashtags into one tweet:  that screams spam.  Two to three hashtags should be your limit.  Using hashtags inside your tweet instead of attaching it at the end will save you space in your tweets.  And, from time to time, have some of your tweets be tag-free so you look like a human online rather than a spam bot.

Happy tweeting!  And share your most effective hashtags below in the comment section!

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx.  Follow Curt and Journyx on Twitter.