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I'm just a girl in the world.. that kind of likes to write. Mom of 2 teen girls & work as Talent Attraction & Marketing professional. Oh, & I'm addicted to my phone, Social Media, HR/Talent Marketing & Caffeine... you can learn more about me at www.linkedin.com/in/theonecrystal

#Twitter 101: Hashing Out the Hashtag

If you’re on #SocialMedia – anywhere- chances are you’ve seen it.  The # sign that used to be most commonly associated with the phone number got a boost back in 2006:  it was reassigned as a “hashtag.”   But for those who haven’t joined or are new to the “Twitter Revolution?” (1)  Those #subjectmatterstrings you see popping up on Facebook, LinkedIn, and even email/text messages might be greek to you.

IMG found at michelehinojosa.com- a Digital Analyst I respect.  You can follow her on Twitter:  @michelehinojosa (she’s got successful, hands-on experience to back up her academic knowledge, which I like) … btw, this image was used in a good post she put out on Tweeting at Conferences

You say #itsgreek to you??  #You’renotalone -it’s okay, we’re gonna ‘hash’ this out together.(2)

So what is the hashtag?  Simply speaking, Twitter tells us that the hashtag is a symbol used to mark keywords or categorize topics.  Those “Topics” could be anything from:

  • a subject matter – like #HR, #Dating, #Recipes,  or #SocialMedia
  • a trending topic – one of today’s trending topics of interest is #TGIF – makes sense, it’s Friday 🙂
  • an organization, group, or company – a few of my favorites are #WeKnowNext, #TNL, and (of course) #Twitter
  • Phrases you commonly use – like Charlie Sheen’s #Winning or my favorite?  #imadork
Whatever it is you choose to hashtag, once you do it?  Unless you’re tweeting on a private account or are not on Twitter; then be aware that anyone that search that hashtag can find your tweet…  and see how you used it.  So… probably not a best practice to throw out things like:
  • Tim is the worst manager I’ve EVER seen – absolutely no leadership skills what.so.ever.  #HorribleBosses #badboss #mybosssucks
  • Glad my boyfriend wasn’t here to see I just set his carpet on fire! How do I hide this?  #iamintrouble #needaplant
  • Haha!  I totally just called in sick but really I’m going to see Sherlock Homes #offtothemovies
Though funny, they’re likely to land you in hot water if someone you know, knows your company, or whomever you’re talking about happens to run a search using any of those hashtags.   While I do use hashtags to accentuate the funny, (3) my personal strongest usage of the hashtag is to tap into “Conversation Channels/Streams.”   The hashtag is also the calling card for the creation of Twitter communities – and in both my professional and personal capacities?  That’s huge to me… and should be for you.
Check “Hashing Out the Hashtag, Pt 2” for more on that … for now?  On to “Best Practices” with the Hashtag!
How to Use It  – aka “Hashtag Happy”
While the hashtag is both cool & needed to properly amplify your messages/tweets; there are right & wrong ways to use it.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m a multiple offender of ‘best practices’ when it comes to hashtag usage; and I think that’s okay!  What’s important is that you get the guidelines.. and then you can figure out what works for you and your audience/community involvement.  Here’s a few tips to remember:
1.  Be Hashtag Happy, not Overloaded – #allthosetags #clutterupyour140 #sokeepit2a #reasonablevolume.  Twitter recommends the use of 3 hashtags per tweet.  Not gonna lie, I tend to trend towards 4 or 5 as an average.  Here’s why:  Your followers?  See ALL your public tweets.  So, as you grow a larger community, when you put the same thing out on 5 tweets to hit all the hashtags you wanted to?  It can get old.  But pay attention to the visual you create with your tweets; here’s a couple of examples:
  • Not-so-good “Violation” example:  #2manyhashtag #tweets – Someone #bringsthehammerdown & #stopsthemadness! #MakeItStop #TNL #PRSCamp #TChat #HRevolution #HRHappyHour #USGuys
2.  Space it Out:  While the “bad tweet” example really is cluttered, it does bring up a good point.  You don’t have to save all your hashtags for the end of your tweet.  You can integrate them in throughout, such as:   #HR & #Social #Recruiting professionals! Join #TNL 4 our weekly chats powered by @Focus 12/21 on #HRTech – why’s it so hot these days? 
3.  Pay Attention:  If you’re trying to build or join a community; or are using hashtags to archive info?  Pay attention to the usage on the tag – look for things like:
  • How many other people are using it?
  • Are you helping participation grow & is that part of your goal/strategy with creating/using the tag?
  • How are your message(s) on that hashtag being received?  Are you seeing @replies (MTs), retweets (RTs), and increased participation w/ new users that perhaps follow you as a result of your hashtag participation?
  • Or … are the tweets you send to a hashtag drop off into a black hole??  (might be a sign to switch something up)
While this might not be a comprehensive and exhaustive guide to the Twitter hashtag?  It is a good place to start.  Bottom line, with proper usage the hashtag is definitely more than just a funny social string or FB annoyance; but a very useful communication and #social data tool, as well!  Happy Tweeting!

(1) While Twitter launched in 2006, it’s popularity really cemented in 2007 thanks to the South by Southwest, aka #SXSW, when it tripled daily “tweets” from 20k to 60k/day.  But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 300 MILLION + tweet traffic it now handles each day (2011 stat).

(2) Yes, I know the “hash” jokes are corny & slightly unoriginal; but they make me giggle, so I’m rollin’ with it!

(3) Actually nearly 40% of hashtags are used for “useless banter/babble”  – which I’ve personally decided means:  “Accentuate the Funny.”

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2 Comments on “#Twitter 101: Hashing Out the Hashtag”

  1. Dave "theHRCzar" Ryan 12/16/2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I wrote a post ( http://hrofficial.com/2011/09/hashtag-hitchhiking-acceptable-or-not/) about what I have deemed hashtag hitchhiking – and in my humble opinion is improper. Anyway loved your post and I am going to pass it along to some newbies!


  1. Part II of “Hashing Out the Hashtag:” Communities | TheOneCrystal.com - 12/16/2011

    […] as the Community Calling Card for Organizations & Events – con’t from “Twitter 101:  Hashing Out the Hashtag“ Say what?  It’s a calling card?? What does that mean??   Remember earlier when we […]

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