You’ve seen them popping up everywhere. On your favorite TV show, the local news cast, and the Olympic coverage. Though the hashtag has been around Twitter for a while, it’s making it’s way into popular culture and many are wondering what that crazy number sign means.
What Is A Hashtag?
A hashtag is simply a user generated feature of Twitter that allows you to create, follow or participate in a conversation around a specific topic. It works by simply putting the number sign (#) in front of a word or phrase – such as #Olympics.
Once a hashtags is created, other users can participate in the conversation by using the same hashtag in their posts. Twitter and third party applications allow you to search for a specific hashtag and follow the conversation.
Why You Should Use Hashtags?
Hashtags are a great way to connect with Twitter followers either personally or professionally. It’s an easy way to begin or join a conversation about your brand or a related topic and a great way to see what others are saying about you. Since hashtags are searchable, they are a great way to go back and look at past conversations without having to be active in them at the time. And hashtags provide you with an opportunity to join a conversation and connect with people who are not already following you, but share similar interests.
How You Can Use Hashtags
Some of the ways I use hashtags on Twitter are:
- Monitor #YourBrand or #YourName
- Finding new content on a topic
- Join in existing conversations about topics I’m interested in
- Participate in organized Twitter chats (interviews, topical conversations with experts, etc)
- Follow an event I’m at or even couldn’t attend. (Some examples are the #Olympics, #WCGLS). If you are attending a conference, ask ahead of time if they have an official hashtag. Then use it to connect with conference attendees before you go, follow conversations about the sessions and make social plans while you are there and stay connected and share insights once you return home.
- TweetChat is a great third party app that makes it easy to follow and participate in a conversation around a hashtag. Just enter your hashtag (don’t use the #) and it will automatically add the hashtag to your posts as well.
I’m sure you’re using hashtags in ways I didn’t cover, so please share those with us in the comments below.