What is a Twitter hashtag?
A hashtag is a way to unite global Tweets around some particular topic. Basically, these are tags that that help those who seek similar content discover your Tweets. According to the official source:
Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They’re like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.
Hashtags are getting more and more popular (despite the fact some people are against them wishing their Twitter stream to be metadata-free and “as human a form of communication as possible”).
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Anyway, I do use hashtags and find them fun, so I am sharing a few tips and resources below.
Where can I find what hashtags people are using?
#hashtags.org is the first place to find most recent and hot hashtags. It also shows each hashtag popularity trend when you hover over:
Twemes.com is another useful resource for discovering new hashtags and tracking those you are interested in. It has a hashtag cloud and also offers RSS subscription to any hashtag stream:
Wthashtag.com is a user generated wiki of hashtags. If you don’t know what any hashtag means or how to use it, you can use the site search and get a well-compiled entry explaining the meaning of the hashtag:
- When it was first discovered;
- External links;
- Live stream using the hashtag:
How are hashtags used?
Generally, a hashtag is a great way to increase your Tweet visibility. However they should only be used if your Tweet adds value to the topic (so don’t insert # sign before each word).
Remember, that hashtags are tracked by people, so don’t waste their time by [I #eat #ice-cream #now] type of messages (this is also likely to rip off your followers). As an example, here are a couple of cases when using a hashtag makes sense:
- To categorize your Tweets based on a particular topic or for a particular purpose – e.g. #followfriday is a fun tradition to recommend your friends (and the whole universe) new people to follow:
- Hashtags are widely used to live-blog an event. This makes following an event much easier (check our recent post on how hashtags help Shane Jones to follow SEO conferences). It is recommended to set your hashtags before starting to live-blog;
Do you use hashtags? Share your favorite ones!