Ok so you see them all the time on Twitter and occasionally on Facebook or LinkedIn. The Hashtag. In online computer terminology (ie: GEEK SPEAK), A tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching. WHAT????!!!#$##!**&!
In English, a hashtag is simply a symbol, a pound sign, a HASH MARK, that when placed before a group of letters or a word, make it searchable, clickable or TAGGED. Let's say, hypothetically, I am a lover of shoes…hypothetically… and I do a search for the word “Shoes” on Twitter, I may find posts from people saying they are not wearing any shoes, or they need a new pair of shoes. But when I search for #shoes or click on #shoes when I see it in another tweet, it will pull tweets from people all around the world who have tagged their message. This makes the search results much more targeted because typically when someone takes the time or effort to tag a tweet, they are wanting others, who share their interest, to find it.
Hashtags are also very helpful when attending an event (live or virtual) because if the event has a tag, I can follow the tweets without following the people. I can create a column in TweetDeck, or any social management tool, that pulls just the tweets from, say #BWE10 (BlogWorldExpo10). A great way to single out the tweet stream of just those pertaining to an event I am following is to go to TweetChat and type in the hashtag you want to follow. If you sign into this site with your Twitter username you can tweet here without having to remember to type in your #hashtag each time. It will add it to every outgoing tweet as long as you are logged into TweetChat.
Now a great strategy for finding and following people who share the same interests as you, is to find and follow the folks using a tag you are interested in. Example: I might go to an education conference and folks are using the Hashtag #DL10 (DevLearn 2010). I can pull up a search for #DL10 and connect to these folks since I can assume they are all interested in learning and technology (that's what this conference is all about).
If you would like to start your own tag, follow these 3 steps to set it up:
1. Create a short code or tag that makes sense to use. It can be anything that includes letters and numbers. Make it as short as possible since folks have to fit it into the 280 character limit on Twitter, along with whatever they have to say.
2. Do a search on Twitter or Instagram to see if it is being used. Once you find one that is not currently being used (or hasn't been used in the past month or so) start letting people know about it. You don't officially have to register it–just start adding it to tweets when discussing the event or topic.
3. Go to Hashtagify to see who is using it most often, other hashtags that are related, and the popularity of that hashtag. It's not that no one else will use it but it will give you information on the tag you'd like to start adding to your social media posts.
Do you use hashtags in your social media posts? Do you have a tag you'd like to start using or are you still just as confused (if not more) about hashtags? I'd love to hear from you~