Monday, May 23, 2011

Corned Beef #Hashtag

What’s up with all the #hashtags in Twitter? Sometimes there’s four or five of them in one tweet. The rest of the tweet is so abbreviated it’s almost impossible to understand the message. Yikes!

So, what’s the point? Well, #hashtags are part of the Twitter “language” and are used to aggregate tweets, making it easy for anyone to follow a particular subject. As part of a team at a conference a while back I was one of five people assigned to use a special #hashtag and tweet presenter highlights so that those not attending could follow the action virtually. And indeed, there were people out there following our every tweet. Some would tweet back to us, letting us know that there was an audience out there that appreciated our efforts.

Twitter kindly lets you know what the top trending subjects are via how many tweeps are using a particular hashtag. Those trends can alert you to some very interesting, and perhaps more importantly, timely information. In “old” Twitter, scroll down a ways on the right side of the home page to see the trends. In “new” Twitter, they’re on the right side near the top; a bit easier to find.

There are numerous sites that in one way or another celebrate the #hashtag. One of those is . On this site, you can type in a #hashtag (or choose one from a list) and see a graph displaying the popularity on a daily basis for that trend. If you’re a numbers person, this website could be a fun place to spend your time. This website is especially useful if you plan to “invent” a hashtag that hasn’t been used yet. You’ll have a place to track it and watch it grow in popularity.

So what’s the recipe for using #hashtags? The intent is to be helpful so that tweeps can find important information. #thingsIhate may not be so helpful (do we care?), but #gaga may be if you want to know if Lady Gaga has found something more outrageous than a slab of meat to adorn herself with.

One or two #hashtags in a tweet is okay, but no more than three #hashtags in a tweet. At that point the #hashtags tend to overpower the message you’re trying to communicate. And yes, it’s okay to start your own #hashtag, but do use it repeatedly and have your fellow tweeps to help spread the word. We’ve seen several that refer to actual people that have taken off.

Ever see #hashtags in Facebook posts? Looks silly if you’re not a Twitter user, doesn’t it? Facebook doesn’t use #hashtags, uh, Twitter does.  What you’re seeing is your dear “friends” posting their every waking thought in as many places at once as they possibly can, hoping you’ll see it. Somewhere. Do take care as to where you use #hashtags.

So, start letting us know about your love of #sushi or perhaps alert us to great articles on #socialmedia via #hashtags. Whoa, that’s three in a tweet right there!

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