The other night at dinner with some dear friends, someone did an online search for me and my book, Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing. The talk turned to Twitter and hashtags (the # symbol), which most of us were familiar with, but not completely confident regarding its use.
Tweeters connect a hashtag to the front of a word, phrase or topic to categorize their messages. Hashtags allow the tweeter to identify those words or phrases, which helps other people find it. Think of it like a little index to find your topic in a search engine.
So if you’re looking for tweets about a particular subject, let’s say “jobs,” click on that word when it has a hashtag symbol in front of it. If you’ve commented or included information about #jobs in your tweets, then others who search for that hashtag also may find yours, as well. Best practices recommends using a maximum of two hashtags per tweet.
"Trending” is what happens to popular hashtagged words on Twitter, and http://www.hashtags.org/ lists popular hashtags. Use hashtags to categorize your tweets, and possibly attract more followers on Twitter.
By the way, hashtag was voted word of the year for 2012 by the American Dialect Society (ADS). “This was the year when the hashtag became a ubiquitous phenomenon in online talk,”said Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the ADS, on its website. “In the Twittersphere and elsewhere, hashtags have created instant social trends, spreading bite-sized viral messages on topics ranging from politics to pop culture.”
So whether you love them or find them extremely annoying (#likemydaughter), they have a purpose and can be useful.
Write (and tweet) soon,