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Hashtags 101 ~ “The glue that holds Twitter together”

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Twitter hashtags can be intimidating for newbies but they are a vital part of the whole thing.

They are especially useful for chats and competitions. Right now I am in a competition called the Shorty Awards and there are several categories one of which is #green. I use Twitter primarily to help our planet so of course this is my category. I am running second right now so if you get any value from this post I would love your vote here

http://shortyawards.com/mqtodd

Thanks

A massive percentage leave Twitter without ever discovering how the whole community is glued together. For search, conversations, communities, movements, competitions, events, “branding” tweets and analytics just as a few examples.

Much of what is going on on Twitter may be going right by you!.

Putting the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords in a Tweet categorizes those Tweets to show more easily in Twitter Search.
Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category.
Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet.
Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.

Hashtags are used to group together communities. For example a linked in group I am a member of uses the tag #usguys so we can each other’s prescences inside twitter. Often you will see people with that tag in their profiles too. Then there are movements such as the initiative to end dolphin slaughter in Japan. This community uses #TheCove in recognition of and promotion of the Academy Award winning movie about this atrocity. Then there is the “awareness” movement in general which uses #p2.

Have you been in a twitter chat? I host four a week and we use the tags #gpluschat , #toolschat and #eavchat (twice a week). These normally run for between one and two hours and around 400 of these on a diverse range of topics occur every week. You can see a directory at http://twebevent.com. A clever application called Tweetchat allows us to follow the conversation stream during these chats and automatically tweet the relevant tag at the end of each post.

Hashtags are used to link Twitter with other websites. For example if you adjust your settings you can send tweets through your linked in and facebook account streams by adding the tags #in and #fb to your tweets.

Then there are special days which are marked by tags. Have a look at this short video I made explaining this.

Another great use of hashtags is to comment on things. You may see #fail being used or #justsayin or amusing topics which “trend” on Twitter. As I write #liesivetoldmyparents is the most popular topic worldwide.
Hashtags are also used to comment on other hashtags in a tweet. You might for example tweet “@mandyp just #madeout with @justinbieber #inherdreams “. The possibilities really are endless.

Another fun thing to do is to attract various bots to talk to you. Try tweeting a quote about #yoda and the Yoda bot will soon after be right back at you with another timeless piece of wisdom!

Events be they day long or longer are also glued together by hashtags. In May 2009 it was a thrill to be part of a group tweeting about talks from the first ever TEDx event #TEDxTokyo and we reached the number two most popular topic at one stage. You maybe aware of how tweets about happenings can spread like wildfire because everyone interested uses the same tag. I am thinking here of the #iranrevolution around two years ago. The whole world knew almost immediately of events which a year or two previously may have been covered up, at least for a day or so. Literally within minutes a sizeable part of the community were changing their profile pics green. That is why my hair is green on Twitter. This was the day I “got” Twitter and “got” hashtags. We then all changed our locations to Teheran so the brave Iranians and foreign journalists sending out updates could not be traced by the authorities.

My favourite personally invented hashtag is #lifegasm. I do not however “own” it so please feel free to use it. I run a search on it most weeks and retweet people who use it hint hint….

Hashtags will brand tweets as they stand out. For example if you right a quote such as “Only #love is real” the #love will appear in a different colour and thus become the focus of the quote.

A wonderful tool is hashtracking.com which will provide a free report on the number of times a tag has been used in the past twenty four hours. It will also show you the most frequent users of the tag and the people with the highest following who have been using it.

I have really only scratched the surface here and have been involved with some really fun initiatives. A group of us New Zealanders got together and tweeted out verses to the Maori challenge that our All Backs rugby team do before each international game. This video explanation went a little bit “viral” and helped get us in a national newspaper. Enjoy! The #twaka. I had fun making this.

I have barely scratched the surface here. Such sites as hashable.com and hastags.org are well worthy of your investigation if you want advanced explanations of how you can better leverage your time on twitter.

The Shorty Awards vote will take you a matter of seconds and is massively appreciated. Thanks so much http://shortyawards.com/mqtodd

Michael

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