Twitter Hashtags: The Basics

Posted by on Jul 1, 2010 in CRIB Notes: Communication Resources & Info Bytes, Text Messaging, Twitter | Comments Off

Dazed and confused about Twitter hashtags?  We stumbled on a this nice little introductory wiki primer entitled “Hashtags Introduction“.  Below are a few key points:

  • Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They’re like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.
  • Hashtags were developed as a means to create “groupings” on Twitter, without having to change the basic service. The hash symbol is a convention borrowed primarily from IRC channels, and later from Jaiku’s channels.

How To Use Hashtags

  • Start using hashtags in your tweets, preceding key words. It can be helpful to do a little research first, to find out if the subject you’re tweeting already has an established hashtag. Also, check Suggestions and Tips and Example Uses below for ettiquette and general usage.
  • Finally, track other tweets on the subjects you’re interested in (ie: those containing the appropriate hashtags) by browsing/searching at Hashtags.org, TwitterGroups, TweetChat, TweetGrid, Twitterfall, etc. You can set it up with RSS feeds as well.

Suggestions and tips

  • The use of hashtags is still an emergent phenomena, and as such, etiquette is negotiable, though some have already expressed their distaste for hashtags.
  • Used sparingly and respectfully, hashtags can provide useful context and cues for recall, as well as increased utility for the track feature. Used excessively can cause annoyance, confusion or frustration, and may lead people to stop following you. It’s best to use hashtags explicitly when they’re going to add value, rather than on every word in an update.
  • A good rule of thumb to follow is to focus on your update first, and only if it quantitatively adds value, to append one-three hashtags. There are no hard and fast rules, but Twitter should continue to be about answering the simple question: “What are you doing” rather than “What tags apply to what you’re doing?”
  • CamelCase: When creating a hashtag for something that may consist of two or more words its a good idea to use the “CamelCase” format to maintain legibility. The idea is to join words with each words initial letter capitalized. For example if I wanted to create a hashtag  for south Africa, I would type out: #SouthAfrica instead of #southafrica

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