You’ve seen them everywhere on Twitter, and they’re being used more and more – a simple word or phrase with the # sign in front of it. A hashtag.
When a topic is very popular with people you follow you’ll see the same #word used on tweets repeatedly. Take for example the hashtag #fitness. Go to Twitter, type #fitness into the search box and you’ll see who’s talking about it right now, whether or not they’re in your stream. You can then choose if you want to follow them or not.
Alternatively just click on the hashtag in a post on your feed and you’ll go straight to other relevant posts.
So to simplify, Twitter collects everyone who’s tweeting about a single subject and using the # to identify it, into one stream, making it easy for you to follow conversations on subjects that interest you.
Hashtags frequently identify trending topics, so you can, if you want to, keep up to date with what’s going on, or use them simply to keep up and find like minded people to follow.
There’s nothing clever about setting up hashtags – use a # that’s already trending and join in, or create one yourself that you think will be of interest to others and that they may search for.
You can see what’s trending right now at twitter.com/ and personalise what you see depending on where you are and subject matter.
Just a note – don’t try and hijack an already trending hashtag to talk about something else – make sure that if you use a hashtag that’s already in circulation your conversation or comments are relevant.
Twitter says the following about hash tags:
‘Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
- People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.
- Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets marked with that keyword.
- Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.
- Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.
Don't #spam #with #hashtags. Don't over-tag a single Tweet. (Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.)’