In case you haven’t tried it, Twitter is a “micro-blogging” site, where users can post quick status updates of no more than 140 characters, including hyperlinks, links to photos and more. It is a concise way to broadcast a message and attract attention to a blog, website, or bits of information you’d like to share with a wider audience. Twitter has a large population of people looking for new information, offering a wealth of knowledge that is passed by word-of-keyboard rather than through search engines or news sites, usually with more openness than Facebook or other social networks.
If you haven’t used twitter yet, introduce yourself by reading August’s Tech Talk article covering the Basics of Twitter, available on the web at: http://bit.ly/TT-Twitter
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag (#) offers a way to make topics more relevant to those searching on twitter. Adding a hashtag, represented by the # symbol, to the beginning of a keyword in your tweet will allow it to be grouped with other tweets using the same hashtag, helping new users find you and foster interaction.
For example, visit www.twitter.com and enter #maryland in the search window, and find the variety of tweets that have used the same hashtag by a selection of users. If you were to tweet using the same hashtag, your tweet would end up in this search result as well.
Here is an example of a recent tweet using a hashtag by @msbaloma:
Here we see #LinkedIn as a hashtag, and @ABANews, the source of the article of interest, helping to expand the audience of the tweet to those interested in the career-based social network #LinkedIn and followers of @ABANews, or the American Bar Association.
Why use a hashtag?
In part, it helps along the whole “networking” aspect of Twitter’s abbreviated social network. You can use it to keep track of an ongoing conversation (#probono), discuss a current event (#currentdebate), or add a location (#baltimore). Hashtags can become a virtual conversation starter and can lead to a richer Twitter experience. Hashtags also allow you to keep track of your own tweets, for instance, if you’re at a conference and include the same hashtag for every tweet you post relevant to that conference, you’ll be able to sort them in a list by searching for the hashtag. Just use the “advanced search” option near the search window.
A few more #notes:
Only the first character or word after a hash is considered par t of a hashtag. So if you want to use “legal matters” as a hashtag, you’ll need to omit the space so it reads “#LegalMatters.” As shown, it helps to capitalize the first letter in each word in this case. But Keep the hashtag short and easy to remember!
Keep tweets easy to read and focused - don’t use more than 2 hashtags or more than 1 hyperlink per tweet.
Don’t know what a hashtag means? Visit http://tagdef.com/, which offers definitions of a large number of current hashtags, as well as newly “trending” tags. You can also use it to see if you’re using a tag that may be used for another meaning.
If you have a private account that is locked to non-approved followers, you may not get much out of including hashtags in your tweets, only your approved followers can see them. Consider setting up an additional twitter account with public security settings if you wish to interact with more users while maintaining privacy on your locked account. This is easy to manage with applications like TweetDeck or HootSuite which can store multiple user accounts, including a business account if you wish. You simply need to have a different e-mail address for each account.
The most common hashtag: #ff. This stands for “Follow Friday” where users recommend their favorite users to their friends. Next Friday, just type #ff followed by the @users of your choice. You’ll have some new followers that day!
Tanya Roberts is the website assistant at the MSBA, assisting sections with their webpages and e-newsletters. For comments or questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org