To hashtag or not to hashtag…that is the question. If you are new to Twitter, you might be wondering what I’m talking about.
Listen up, all you non-taggers, because the amazing hashtag is going to help you get more out of Twitter. The hashtag, also known as the pound sign or crosshatch (#), is a grouping or searching tool you can use in your Twitter posts.
When you tweet, only your immediate followers see you…unless you put a subject specific hashtag in your tweet that describes your topic. This hashtag includes your tweet in the ongoing chat stream that people on Twitter follow.
Note: TweetDeck and Hootsuite are two apps that help organize your Twitter feed into little sips, rather than the drive-by zooming feed that makes you feel like you just drank from a fire hydrant.
Let’s put this hashtagging business into perspective:
If your followers see your tweet, that is a wonderful thing. These are your Followers, your Tweeties, your peeps who think you have something valuable to say. It’s like your local lemonade stand where everyone on your block walks by, chats and gives you a quarter for a cool beverage.
By adding a hashtag (#LemonadeStand, for example) to the post, you and your little stand will be on the Twitter equivalent of Google or Bing, searchable to all the #LemonadeStand-following world.
Your local little tweet becomes part of a global “scene” with the hashtag. If you write to share your thoughts with the world, this is heady indeed. It is also informative.
Here’s what I mean:
One day I had Twitter open during lunch, just eating and watching the feed from the people I follow. Out of the corner of my eye I saw @MargaretAtwood and tuned in. There on the screen was “Interview at 1 pm with @MargaretAtwood. Go to #followreader to tune in.”
All I had to do was click the #followreader hyperlink and I was watching a live interview with, as one of the other followers said, “Margaret Freaking Atwood. OMG!” She is a long-time favorite of mine and it was a shot of adrenaline to see her answer questions from her fans, live and in color.
The experience was amazing and way better than a crowded conference hall where you have to leave your seat and walk over to an open mic to ask a question. For this Twitter chat, we could ask her any question we wanted and, as long as we put #followreader on the end, it showed up for everyone in the chat (including Margaret Freaking Atwood!).
One of the huge draws of Twitter is the ability to interact with people all over the world who you’d never be able to meet or get near otherwise. The real excitement for most Twitter newbies is the sense of community and the depth of knowledge that’s available.
The hashtag will help enhance the experience for you.
For a great resource on Twitter (and social media and branding), I recommend that you visit Kristen Lamb’s blog and read all of her Twitter Tuesdays posts – TT #2 deals with hashtags and delves a bit deeper on some of the topics here.
If you would like to see a list of popular hashtags, go to one of the following sites:
- Specific to writers: Marcy Kennedy’s post on the 12 Best Hashtags for Writers.
- Hashtags.org shows you what is trending now and the current tweets for a tag.
- Hashtagify.me identifies the top hashtags and the influencers in each.
Please feel free to add any other hashtag references or sites into the comments section below. We always love to hear your favorites here at More Cowbell! In the meantime, enjoy some new Twitter functionality. Happy writing!