Many conferences (think the upcoming SES Toronto, for example) and news events are Twittered live by participants and visitors alike.

To help group such tweets together, to show that a tweet is about or from this event, people use hashtags. They're written like #tag

Twitter hashtags

Their value? Tweets are soundbites; only the most valuable, most important, most poignant items are tweeted.

You see which statements hit home as high impact news, brilliant ideas and striking points bubble up with person after person tweeting and retweeting them.

Valuable information retweeted on Twitter

Your collection of tweets about an event becomes your own executive summary, bringing you up to speed with what was important.

Having those collections of quotes and info-points available at all times, searchable, is a valuable source of reference.

You do know Twitter Search spans the last 30 days only, right?

Here's an April 19 tweet by me:

Twitter Message

And here's the search for that tweet:

Failed Twitter Search

Your valuable hashtag information: down the the drain.

Here's how to solve that.

Your Permanent Twitter Powered News Archive

You can find and read hashtags tweets very easy through Twitter Search or with tools like Twitterfall or TweetDeck.

To get maximum, long-time investment value, we use Twitter Search itself. For our example we'll search for the SES Toronto hashtag #sestoronto.

SES Toronto Twitter hashtag search results

Feed link for a Twitter SearchTop-right you will see a link to the feed for this search.

Grab the link. Don't be tempted to add it to your standard newsreader; that one will grab only the last 10-20 items of that feed.

Adding SES Toronto Twitter feed link to Google ReaderNo, what you're looking for is to add the link to Google Reader because Google Reader loads a feed all the way back to its very first item (see: Leverage Google Reader's Secret)

In other words: if you add SES Toronto's hashtag today your feed will soon show all the items from the 30 days before you added it!

And, as long as you don't delete the feed in Google Reader, those results stay there.

Using Google Reader's Twitter Archive

We all have our own way of making things work the way we like it in Google Reader.

Custom All Items view in Google ReaderMine is to create my own All Items view so I can enjoy the benefits of a river of news view but still filter out pure "could be handy to have" archive feeds.

So when I add the SES Toronto hashtag Twitter feed to a folder I created purely to store hashtag searches, its items don't clog my usual news stream.

Twitter Hashtags in Google Reader

Now you're free to mine that data however you want to. You can search per hashtag or in your complete folder of hashtags.

You could find a starter point for your next blog post:

Twitter hashtag archive as idea generator

research ideas about content

Explore Twitter in your feed reader

or write a Twitter report about the event:

Twitter report post

How do you use Twitter and its feeds?

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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20 Responses to “Steal This Idea: Google Reader & Twitter Hashtags”

  1. Michael D says:

    This is terrific Ruud. Too many times I've been at conferences and forgotten to hashtag tweets, certainly makes it more difficult to locate later. More importantly, makes it difficult for others, which decreases likely hood of having it screenshot and included in someones summary of the event. Any evidence of non twitter sites using hashtags?

  2. Ruud Hein says:

    Not that I know of. Other sites use tags, like Flickr. You do see overlap: #SESNY on Twitter, SESNY on Flickr.

    Whenever I see a couple of tweets from an event and it seems to contain good nuggets, I throw the tag feed into Google Reader. I can always delete it but have only 30 days to get it.

  3. Awesome post as usual. I saw first hand how poerful hashtags can be during the Powershift conference a couple of months back. At the conference they actually had a huge screen that was treaming tweets with the #powershift tag. I did not know about your little trick until just now, very useful.

  4. Great overview! I'll be sure to send this out to a few people… I think that it will help them.

    Regarding the 30-day limit – it makes me wonder what happens with all of that data. Perhaps that's how Twitter plans to monetize. Store and sell the collective conscience. Seems like a good idea if you don't mind knowing what happened a month ago. 😉

    Thanks for sharing!

    Looking forward,

    • Ruud Hein says:

      The data is there; you can still go back to your first ever Tweet for example. It's just that they don't want to "burden" their service with search going back more than 30 days. There's some real archival value in that beyond-30-days area though; that's where Google Reader comes in.

      The same idea can easily be applied to a user's own stream. I follow less than 5 people that way on Twitter; subscribe to their twitter feed :)

  5. Emil says:

    Hi Ruud, GREAT post! As a Tweet newbie, I had seen the tweets with hashmarks in them, but wasn't sure what they were, or how to use them. I have been using Google Reader for some time, but now I can see even more value in it by combining it with Twitter as you suggest.

    • Ruud Hein says:

      To me Google Reader's best feature remains archiving. To have all items of a feed going back to either when it started or the very first day Google Reader did, is very handy.

      I often prefer it over regular site search although there's no relevance ranking. First in, Last Out.

  6. It sounds like a sort of Twitter filing system, which will be really useful for a lot of people when they want to go back to something they previously wrote. Am I right in saying that the # draws attention to the subjects, so that the search engines mark them as important?

  7. Anthony says:

    Wow, this is surprisingly useful! Really useful, has helped me just organise my Google Reader archive, added with the bonus of the hash tags I can see big potential, thanks!

  8. Im new to twitter and i have noticed "hashtags" as they are called. i was wondering when someone has written, for exemple #twitterclub, does that also get sent to anouther page with contains #twitterclub or do people just put it so other people know that they are talking to people in #twitterclub ? Also, what sites are they on ?

  9. @Swimming Pools – I'm sure that there are a few opinions on how to use hashtags… here are three that might help.

    1) If you see a hashtag and wonder what it is, go over to and type in the exact hashtag (i.e. #twitterclub, #socialmedia, #HR, etc…). You will get a grasp of the conversation pretty quickly from the various tweets.

    2) To monitor a hashtag very easily, download a 3rd party application like TweetDeck ( and create a search field for the hashtag of interest. There is a small magnifying glass on top part of the interface… once you click it, you can type in the hashtag name. That way you are notified anytime someone says something new in that particular hashtag line.

    3) There is a fairly new website called Twubs which allows you to monitor the hashtag conversation and any media that is shared. You can find it at ( I think that it's pretty great! If you want to make changes to the hashtag home, you can log in using your Twitter ID and password. You can actually tweet out directly from their site once you do that.

    Good luck with everything!

    Looking forward,

  10. Adam Sherk says:

    Nice tip, I'll definitely give this a shot.

  11. Thanks for using my Tweet exemple : @PabloStevenson


  12. Wow, that was a seriously insightful post about harnessing the power inherent in twitter through the use of Google reader. Nice one Ruud! Love your insight man!

  13. Martin says:

    Very useful… I use this to follow some ongoing conversations including #hackedu. I'm also archiving my tweets and using GReader as a Twitter client with a script that I put together.

    I posted about it

    Script at

  14. Anna says:

    This is the third time I have come back to this article to apply the tips to my work. It really helps to do a summary of a chat. Thanks so much for the help!

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