How to use #Hashtags (for real)

Hashtags are probably one of the most frequently misunderstood social networking tools.First showing up in 2007, Hashtags are words or phrases grouped together after a # sign.

You can technically hash anything, from singular words to longer phrases.  But the  purpose of Hashtags is to contribute to Twitter’s community and conversation. Meaning, it is not considered best practice to just Hashtag random words; instead you should think bigger.

For example, if you are attending the Book Expo of America, you can add #BEA13 at the end of your conference Tweets. This will pool your Tweet with other Tweets with the same Hashtag (as long as your account is public). In fact, many conventions feature scrolling Twitter feeds that pull out all tweets related to their event.  You can see what other people are saying and what talks they are attending.  This is even a way to find liked minded colleagues and gather more followers.

From television shows to celebrities, Hashtags can achieve many goals. Many famous people use hashtags to conduct Q&A sessions with their followers. Justin Timberlake did one recently where he asked his fans to tweet #askJT.

Some television shows will display Hashtags at the bottom of the screen. The intention is for viewers to use these specific phrases to express their thoughts on the program.  The Soup, a saterical reality-TV news show on E!, is well-known for using parody Hashtags throughout their broadcast.

Other times a Hashtag is utilized to send updates on developing stories. Most recently, Boston Police used Twitter to inform the public of developments in Boston Bombing investigation and eventual manhunt. #BostonMarathon started as a Hashtag to share moments from the joyous marathon and ended as a Hashtag to share horrific scenes from this tragedy.

Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Try clicking on trending Hashtags and scroll through these feeds.  You will get an idea of how others use Hashtags.
  • Control the length of your Hashtags (Use the KISS method – Keep it simple, Stupid)
  • Look at trending Hashtags for some examples of best practices
  • Experiment a little!  Don’t be afraid!
  • Visit Twitter’s Help Center for more information on Hashtags and other trending information
  • Twitter also has a great Best Practices site within their development blog

Here are some articles for further reading on Hashtags and their usage:

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Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. You can now use #Hashtags on Facebook | Wiley Author - June 17, 2013

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