If you’re new to the Twitter world, or even if you’re not, you may be wondering, “Just what is a hashtag?” The term hashtag may imply a complex meaning, but the answer is actually very simple. A hashtag is just a word or group of words with the # (pound sign) in front of it like this: #target or #hashtracking. These tags started out as a simple labeling system in IRC chats, but because of the ease with which you can create them and use them to search, they took off and became a regular fixture on Twitter.
What Is a Hashtag Used For?
Hashtags are, essentially, used to tag tweets for easy categorization and searching. On Twitter, hashtags become links in your tweets so that clicking on them takes the user to a whole stream of tweets that share the same tag. Likewise, users can simply type hashtags into http://twitter.com/search/ to find tweets tagged in this way. This makes it incredibly simple to find tweets related to the same topic, which could be an event, business, cause, news report, or even a conversation held by a group of Twitter users. You can tweet without creating a hashtag, but including one in your tweets gives you more reach. Not only will your followers see your tweet, but so will anyone following or searching for that hashtag.
How Do I Create a Hashtag?
You can create a hashtag at any time. It’s a very simple process:
- Think up a relevant, short keyword phrase or acronym to use (short being the operative word; your tweet characters are limited, so you cannot afford to waste them with long, clunky tags). Make it memorable, and do not include any spaces. Instead of #market maverick, use #marketmaverick.
- Search for the hashtag you created and make sure it’s not already taken. No one owns hashtags, but people can become pretty possessive of them. Also, you don’t want your tweets linked with negative ideas, topics, businesses, or people simply because you chose a hashtag that was not only already in use, but also rather controversial in nature.
- Use your hashtag in your related tweets, but don’t go overboard. Keep your use to one or two hashtags per post. No one wants to look at a whole tweet full of them. Spamming is a no-no. Don’t try to glom onto a popular hashtag for attention.Only use popular hashtags in your tweets when they are relevant.
Once you’ve created a hashtag, don’t forget to promote it. It’s useless if you’re the only person who knows it exists. Share it! Add it to your social sharing links and include it in your profiles. Share it on your blogs and add it to your email signature as well.