Social Media A to Z Series: H is for Hashtag ~ 13 Uses for the Hashtag
Our language is changing rapidly and technical terms are becoming commonplace. What am I talking about you might ask. Well, recently I was with friends enjoying a long weekend where I asked, “Have you noticed the use of the hashtag in the movies?” The response was “What is a hashtag?!” I had to explain that I was not being naughty and shared the concept of the hashtag. This whole preamble is to say, I am so glad that we are at “H is for Hashtag!” as we definitely need a common understanding on what it is and how it is being used.
So what is a Hashtag?
- The # symbol is called a hashtag.
- It is primarily used to mark keywords or topics in messages (tweets) when using Twitter. This is the original use of the symbol but do read on.
Why do you need to know about this?
- It was created by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
- It is a way to organize and quickly search messages.
- Hashtags helps you find interesting Tweets
- To use the hashtag you would place it just in front of the keyword or subject that you would want to search on later. So for example, if you were sending a message (aka tweeting) about Facebook, you might use #Facebook to find news and/other followers about Facebook. The hashtag can be placed anywhere in the Tweet. Remember, if you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet.
- Hashtagged words that become very popular are often termed trending topics ie it is away of knowing what the “hottest buzz” is in the “media” within that timeline.
When using the hashtag remember:
- To not over-tag a single Tweet
- Best practices recommend using no more than 3 hashtags per Tweet.
- Use hashtags that are relevant to the topic of interest in your Tweet
- Be sure that it adds value for yourself and your followers.
- Click on a hashtagged word in any message if you want to show all other Tweets in that category.
Now I could have easily finished this post at this point however what is also interesting is the different ways the hashtag is being used above what has been already described. I did a quick survey in addition to my own observations on how the hashtag is being used.
The 13 Uses of the Hashtag
- Search. The number one use of the hashtag is using it like you would a search engine. Many use it to search information, discounts or specific topics. There are also a number of useful sites to search specific topics using the hashtags. They include: What the Trend?: This site provides information about trending topics; Twubs: This site aggregates tweets and imports pictures to help illuminate the topics being discussed on the web; Hashtags.org:This sites shows your hashtag use over time and recent tweets
- Organize information. This is an excellent use of the hashtag when you need to organize information and/or groups. There is a lot of noise on Twitter, so having a tool to help you organize topics, information and/or groups really helps to manage the vast amount of tweets on that information highway.
- Event Planning. This use has definitely grown in popularity. The hashtag has been used for planning events, webinars, conferences and workshops. It is an excellent way to create a buzz leading up to an event. Fans and Followers are easily updated with current information. The same hashtag can then also be use for live feedback during the event and again after the event to collect customer feedback.
- Creating a Buzz.. Linked to event planning during the event, organizers request visitors or Followers to tweet with specific hashtags to create a buzz about the event. This has also been exercised about particular issues or causes to create visibility about a topic or issue.
- Formal Chats: Tweetchats has really grown over the years. They are like live tweet meet-ups but online using tweets. You will have to brush-up on your typing speed though! You can schedule a chat at Tweetchat.com and then invite your followers to discuss a topic at a certain time and day. You can also review what chats are scheduled that you would like to join.
- Informal Chats with specific groups, Hashtags are great to help focus on specific followers and topics. You can arrange informal chats at any given time..
- Cultural Shorthand: We are beginning to see hashtags outside tweets to emphasize a topic. The concept has really caught on and seems to be fast becoming a standard symbol outside tweets. I would like to call it a sort of new cultural shorthand. It is usually used to emphasize a feeling or perspective.
- Movie Promotions: The hashtag has made it to Hollywood! Its popularity has grown in movie trailers ie #movietitle. This makes it easy to search and is used to create a buzz before opening night and to allow Followers to continue the experience after the showing.
- Social TV. With the advent of social media, TV has had to change their approach to broadcasting. As a result, the whole concept of Social TV has emerged. With this emergence, is the growing use of hashtags link to a TV show and the ability to provide live feedback to that viewing experience.
- Marketing Focus Groups: The hashtag has been used to get people meeting online and providing feedback regarding a company or a product.
- Education. The hashtag has been used as an education tool to direct specific groups to specific blog post/articles to educate readers and customers. It has also found its way in some classrooms.
- Branding: Again linked to marketing, the hashtag is also used for branding #blog or #company.
- Breaking News: I added this at the last-minute! While I was writing this post, I received a news bulletin on my facebook news-feed sharing what was happening on the NYC Brooklyn bridge! Nothing was in the media at the time but a photo flashed on my page where there appeared to be a “sit-in” on the bridge. I was instructed to search the hashtag #occupywallstreet to get the latest on Twitter. Amazing!
If you enjoyed this post , do share it with your network and/or let me below. Thank you!
Cartoon used by permission of the Cartoonist.
Image by Shirley Williams
- How to Use Twitter Hashtags to Generate Event Marketing Buzz (hubspot.com)
- How to Use Social Media for Learning: Follow Specific Hashtags on Twitter for Mining Knowledge (lockergnome.com)
- How To Use #Hashtags (seopositive.co.uk)
- The future of TV in Social Media (live shop travel)
- Hashtags in Education (Creative Education)
- Conference Hashtags (tourismland.wordpress.com)