Hashtagging! What exactly is it? A while back my social media-inept friend began badgering me about what sticking a hash mark in front of a random phrase or term in a tweet meant. Going through our personal Twitter feeds, we were witnessing a strange trend; several of our friends were using hashtags as ways to truncate their thoughts. For example, one girl, who will remain anonymous, often broadcast her rather passive-aggressive rants into the Twitter world, and concluded her 140-character thought with a “#justsayin” hashtag. What? Does hashtagging really have a purpose there?
In that instance, our angry friend was just being snarky with her tweets, and used hashtags to further reinforce her attitude. Beyond establishing tone though, what other, more meaningful, purposes do hashtags serve?
- Directing your Tweet to a specific topic: Got a question or comment? You can hashtag just about anything, allowing your tweet to show up in a public search timeline. You never know what kind of conversation you might spark or what answers you can elicit from using a hashtag.
- Distinguishing trending topics: On the side of your Twitter feed, you’ll see a list of trending topics in the form of hashtags. Using hashtags to talk about trending topics is a great way for you to get involved in conversation proliferating throughout the Twitterverse. Hashtagged topics are also a great way to keep up with current events—often I find out about breaking news through my Twitter feed.
- Seeking out new events: Many conferences and big events now use specific hashtags to organize conversations amongst their attendees. With the ubiquity of smart devices and phones, anyone anywhere can get connected, and can use hashtags to tune into specific conversations pertinent to his or her event.
There you have it– the basics of hashtagging. Try it out and see what kind of engagement you can get on Twitter. If all else fails, you can always use a hashtag as a good ol’ conversational shorthand, #youknowhatimean?