What’s in a #Hashtag?

A friend recently commented on the strange accessory to my tweets –a series of seemingly random symbols, letters and numbers that made no obvious sense.

This was of course a hashtag. I had been using it whilst tweeting from a conference and it occurred to me that hashtags are something often taken for granted by seasoned tweeters but probably quite confusing if you are noticing them for the first time.

So here is a quick overview…

The humble hashtag is a particular favourite at events, conferences or just general conversations about stuff like favourite TV shows. By using a hashtag, subjects can be easily searched and followed. Quite simply it provides a way to catalogue a collection of tweets and bring some order to what might otherwise be a chaotic online space.

For an event this means that even if you are not attending in person, you can set up a search and monitor the whole conversation as it happens without the need to follow every single user that is participating (which would be impossible).

You can therefore take part in conversations based upon themes or topics rather than purely on who you are following. The same applies for your favourite TV shows – you can join realtime discussion as the show is on, so it’s like watching TV with hundreds of friends (often connecting you with new ones).

If enough people make use of the hashtag it’s then more likely to appear as a trending topic and this helps to spread information on Twitter (while also helping to organise it).

Here are a few simple hashtag tips:

1. Don’t overuse them –you risk diluting their usefulness and fragmenting conversations.

2. Search existing hashtags –you can join and add to conversations by looking at what’s already being used. Events, conferences and TV shows will often have their own tag allowing you to join in with an established community.

3. Keep it relevant –if you are commenting on a particular hashtag make sure there is some context. Remember, whatever you write is added to that search string so enrich it by being pertinent.

So to sum up, hashtags are a simple way to organise information, they can extend your reach and help build new connections. Time to start tagging your tweets!


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2 responses to “What’s in a #Hashtag?

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