I may be dating myself here, but I remember when Twitter didn’t automatically link @usernames and when #hashtag was a workaround to make disjointed streams of updates easier to find in their clunky search engine.

Well, Twitter has done a good job of integrating those ideas of its users to make the service what it is today. Why shouldn’t news organizations do the same and take the best ideas from their readers and viewers? One great way to gather their feedback and ideas is to integrate hashtags into your coverage. Here’s a few tips on doing that:

1. Have a standard hashtag for your news organization’s daily coverage. It could be #nyt or #cnntv or it could #[city]news or whatever it is (shorter is better) that is easy to remember and relatively easy for Twitter users to identify. Make sure it’s not already in use by someone else — unless they’re talking about your content. Don’t re-invent the wheel: If your community is already using a hashtag to link to your work, latch on and adopt it! Refer to this often in on air, in print and online so people start to associate that hashtag with your brand and your content. Encourage readers to use this tag when they mention your stories or when they have reaction to, questions about or tips for your coverage. Ask your reporters and staff to include the tag on their updates. That way, there is one stream of information you can send readers to for on-going updates without having to follow dozens or more accounts. The top news should make it there, and user story suggestions get that tag. Read more