If you haven’t caught on to Twitter yet, just stop reading this, go there now, and educate yourself. Set a timer though, and come back soon, because we have some serious ground to tread here. While you might have tossed tweeting into your pile of “Things Annoying Celebrities Do in Their Spare Time,” nearly 645,750,000 people are actively registered on the tweet-beast, and that makes for a whopping 2.1 BILLION Twitter search engine queries every day. Twitter packs a punch, so here’s how you can make the most out of the little blue bird: #gethashtagging!

Hashtags have gone haywire with nearly every social medium out there, but they are most effective on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook if you must. Facebook still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of the hash, but when it does, you’ll want to be #readytorumble. By far, Twitter has the hashtag down to a #T, and when you use hashtags skillfully, prepare yourself and your biz for some seriously heavy traffic, the trick is to stay branded, stay current, and stay on top of content.

Ideally, you should develop a unique brand hashtag that will keep you at the forefront of the search. Scour the internet to make sure that you really are the only one, or #you will send potential clients somewhere they don’t want to be. This will make you unique, visible, and easily accessible–which is necessary to #success. This should be used across each media platform, and no matter what engine it goes in, you come out. With every new move you make, take a hashtag with you. Create a unique hashtag for each campaign. Make it easy, make it logical, and again, make it consistent #FTW!

When it comes to trendability, #usecaution! Many end up spamming hashtags which is counterproductive and inefficient. Trends change constantly, so piggyback on those that genuinely mesh with your mission and will get you to your target audience. Remember that the rapid fire changes in popularity mean that you need to be updated constantly on where you should devote your #time. @Oreo is the king of the hashtag, and are known for staying on top of major events like none other. When #fashionweek was in full swing, @Oreo took advantage of the event by posting in a timely, and attention-catching way. The same goes for many political movements and upheavals that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with #deliciouschocolatecookie.

Your content can easily be represented by hashtags as well. New treatments, new products, and new campaigns can be broken down and their components make for excellent hashtags. Designing a #killerkitchen with a super special component? Make that your hashtag. Getting prepped for some intense Jiu Jitsu training with the #WorldCup in swing? #Brazil will get some eyes on your content fast (and not just those looking for stats). Use your content to guide you to your targets to really make hashtags work for you.

Hashtags are what you make of them, and with skillful use, these simple keys will unlock the Twitter-verse and beyond to get your message to the right people, fast. True, you’re competing with @KatyPerry, the most followed person online (and her cute cat pics are sure to attract even the most antisocial-media users), but stay trending and you’ll be making more than just a #squawk.

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