In its most basic form, hashtags are words or acronyms that begin with the number (#) sign. Twitter hashtags like #followfriday help spread information on Twitter while also helping to organize it.
Hashtags are a great way for users to group Tweets together by subject. They are used when many people are tweeting about the same topic or event. To see some different hashtags, log on to Twitter and view Twitter’s trending topic list. There is almost always at least one hash tag on this trending topics list. An algorithm used by Twitter determines which topics are “trending”.
Before using a hashtag, search the hashtag in the Twitter search box, which is located on the top of every Twitter page, to see how the hashtag is being used. A website called Hashtag.org claims to be the “defacto standard for hashtag information”. A Twitter user may also search Hashtag.org to determine the usage and trends of any hashtags. After it is determined what a hashtag is being used for, a Twitter user is in a position to leverage that hashtag to a targeted and much more specific audience. A Tweet about the GOP or political news, for instance, reaches a much more specific audience with the hashtags #GOP, and #TCOT attached to the end of a message. Clicking on a hashtag in any message shows all the other recent Tweets in that hashtag’s category.
The hashtag is a useful tool of event organizers and it is also a way for a Twitter user to organize information. For instance, if Twitter users informally agree to append a hashtag to Tweets about the topic of baking blueberry bagels fast, it becomes easier to find that topic if Twitter users interested in blueberry bagels attach a hashtag to their blueberry bagel messages. Twitter users excited about the topic of baking blueberry bagels fast might start using the hashtag #BBBF after their Tweets. Using #BBBF in the Tweet would have the effect of allowing other Twitter users interested in the topic to look for information in this category fast by searching for #BBBF in their Twitter search box. Here’s an example of how it would work. The following message is created by a Twitter user who writes: “Using a great new bagel recipe. Found it here.” The users’ link would be inserted here, followed by the hashtag: #BBBF.
Twitter has published an informational article on the use of hash tags. The article can be viewed by going to the online Twitter help center.