Making Sense of Twitter’s #Hashtag Technology
If you’ve been on Twitter for any amount of time, you’ve no doubt seen tweets that contain the “#” symbol followed by a word or group of words. The first time I noticed this, I thought it was simply to add emphasis to a word or phrase, and I was partly right, but, only partly right. I was very far from understanding why it was there, and what it actually did.
The hashtag (#) was organically created by Twitter users to categorize messages, thereby helping them find interesting tweets. Hashtags were popularized during the San Diego forest fires in 2007 when Nate Ritter used the hashtag “#sandiegofire” to identify his updates related to the disaster. From there it took off!
Using hashtags in your tweets
Using a hashtag before relevant key words creates a hyperlink to other tweets around the subject, and allows your tweets to show up in searches for people who are not currently following you. Clicking on a hashtagged word in a message shows you all other tweets in that category, and if it becomes popular, will show up in the Trends.
- Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic.
- Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a single Tweet.
Best practices recommend using no more than 3 hashtags per Tweet.
- Follow discussions that are centered around #yourinterest.
Great discussions are happening all over Twitter if you know which #hashtag to look for.
- Remember, the #keyword is delimited after the first space.
Twitter stops reading it as a hashtag after the first break. If you want to call out American Idol with a hashtag, you would use #AmericanIdol, as Twitter would read #American Idol simply as #American, thus skewing the search criteria.
So, how do I create my own #hashtag?
If you’ll notice above, #HashtagBasics is a hashtag that I created for the purpose of this article. Hashtagged words have definitions assigned to them, and are not just random. If you would like to create your own hashtag, or see a list of hashtags and their definitions, visit http://tagdef.com.
To make your tweet show up on your LinkedIn profile, simply use the hashtags #in or #li in your tweets to post the update to both places. If your Facebook and Twitter accounts are tied together and post automatically to both sites, adding #in or #li to the message will post your update to LinkedIn as well. Pretty cool huh?
There are other uses for hashtags, but these are the basics, and will hopefully give you have a little better understanding of what they are and how they work.
If you found this article useful, be sure to share it with your friends, they’ll love you for it!