Perhaps one of the most confusing areas of Twitter are hashtags. How do they work, who can use them, are there huge directories somewhere where they list all the official hashtags you can use? Once you have some of these questions answered, there’s even more questions surrounding TweetChats and Live Tweets and how those work (we’ll elaborate on these more in the next couple blog posts).
We’ll answer all of these questions for you and help you jump deeper into the conversations you want to engage with on Twitter.
What are Hashtags?
If you were participating, for example, with Gartner Symposium and ITxpo, you might search for a handful of terms, “Gartner” or “Gartner Symposium” or “ITxpo” or some other combination of those terms. Without hashtags, there could be multiple parallel conversations without coordination.
Hashtags were created by some Twitter users in 2007 to organize conversations on Twitter. By having a distinct #Hashtag, users were able to track a single conversation. This is beneficial because instead of conversing past each other, users were able to locate and engage with each other through a dedicated word or phrase.
"The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet" – Twitter
What’s The Difference Between # and @?
A #hashtag is meant to indicate you’re tweeting about a topic where an @mention means you’re intending to converse with a particular account.
For example, you might tweet, “#BMCCloud blog ranks in top 50 #IT blogs according to @BizTechMagazine.” Here, the hashtags, #BMCCloud and #IT both mean that you’re talking about those topics, while @BizTechMagazine means that you’re attributing the ranking to a particular user, or wanting to draw it to their attention..
What are Some Reasons I Should I Hashtag?
Firstly, hashtags highlight major themes of tweet and your followers are able to see your main points at a glance. Hashtags also add interactivity to text and makes it easy to link to other tweets using the same hashtag. Hashtags become clickable links that direct you to a Twitter search for that hashtag. For that reason, people that may be searching for your hashtag can be directed to your content.
If you’re using hashtags for marketing purposes, you can track campaigns and conversations, and review analytics. Additionally, Compendium found that B2B tweets using hashtags increased clicks 193%.
Furthermore, Hashtags are everywhere! Hashtags are no longer just limited to Twitter. Chatter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram, all use # before a word to connect your post to others using the same hashtag, so learning how to use hashtags on Twitter can help to improve your engagement across multiple channels.
Creating a Hashtag:
When using or creating a hashtag, make sure there are no spaces or special characters (!, $, %, ^, &, *, +, .). These will divide up a hashtag, and "#LOVE!ITSM" becomes just "#LOVE."
Also, search hashtags.org or Twitter to see if the hashtag is in use for another event or organization. Hashtags like #BMC aren’t great because many different organizations are called BMC. We use #BMCSoftware. If hashtags.org doesn’t list your hashtag, define your Hashtag at http://www.hashtags.org/definition/add/
Defining your hashtag is unofficial, but does help users understand how to use the hashtag.
Tips for using Hashtags:
Hashtags (#) can be included within the main body of the post, or at the end to indicate topic or category. “I love attending #GartnerDC info sessions” is acceptable, as is “I’m really learning a lot! #GartnerDC”
Don't #spam #with #hashtags. (no more than 2 hashtags per tweet.) And use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic. Twitter even looks for people that repetitively use trending hashtags without relevant content.
Be careful of clicking on links to popular hashtags. Hashtag hijacking is common for large conferences and popular events.
More to come!
Just dive right in and use some hashtags. If you’re not sure how, we’ve hopefully given you at least a start, or see how some of your favorite tweeters are using them, or follow @BMCSoftware and see how we use them!
We'll also have some upcoming blog posts on LiveTweeting and TweetChats, as well as how these relate to hashtags. Look forward to those to come!
What other hashtag tips do you have to share? Please let us know in the comments!