Once you start using Twitter it probably won’t take long before you come across what’s known as a hash tag. When you notice something in a tweet that has a # prefix. (The # is called a hash symbol, hence the term hash tag or hashtag.)
It’s a bit confusing at first as to what the purpose of this thing is for but you’ll see it’s not as complicated as it seems.
A hash tag can be created by anyone as a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. For example, if you search on #TheMentalist (not case-sensitive), you’ll get a list of tweets related to the TV show.
The good thing about the hash tag is that if someone wrote a tweet without putting the words TheMentalist in the main message, it will still show up in your search because of the tag.
The flip side is that if you search using the tag, and someone wrote a tweet about the show without including it, that tweet won’t show up in your results, even if TheMentalist appears in the text. Eg. “Do you think Patrick Jane will find Red John on TheMentalist tonight?”
In a way, hash tags allow you to create communities of people interested in the same topic by making it easier for them to find and share info related to it. Where do hash tags come from? Hash tags are NOT any kind of official Twitter function. Twitter has not created a list of topics that we can browse through to see if there’s one that interests us. Any user can create a hash tag by simply adding it to their own tweet.
As you can see, it’s a very organic process that works simply because of a group mindset that people like to categorize topics and this is one way to make it easier to do so.
How do I track topics of interest to me?
The first thing I would do is a basic Twitter search on, well lets use The Mentalist term itself so I can see if someone’s already created a related hash tag.
Results for #Thementalist
· Tweets ·
Mentalist_CBS The Mentalist
Scoop_Ferguson Abigail Ferguson
cbschicago CBS Chicago
Ghost of boyfriends past. Why has O’Laughlin returned to haunt Van Pelt? #theMentalist 9 pm 1/19
Now, I’ve gone through a few pages of results and, while there are plenty of tweets with the term Thementalist in them, I’m finding many that have included a hash tag.
So if I want to create a community of people who will share their love of say the topic of #procrastination and how it affects your health, in which I’ve written a book about, I’ll create my own hash tag.
Note: Before you create your own tag, you might want to search on a few variations to make sure they don’t already exist. Since the tag will use up some of my 140-character limit, I want to keep it fairly short, while still making it precise
Definition of hashTag: 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.
Hashtags: Helping you find interesting Tweets
- People use the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords in their Tweet to categorize 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
Example: In the Tweet below, @twitter added the hashtag before the phrase “thankyousteve”. The word is now a link to search results for all Tweets containing “#thankyousteve” in the message.
- If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet
- Don’t #spam #with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a single Tweet. (Best practices recommend using no more than 3 hashtags per Tweet.)
- Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic
Further Discovery and Reading
- The third party site hashtags.org offers an overview of popular hashtags used on Twitter. Find out about trends, look at graphs, and search to see if the hashtags of your interest exists.