What the Heck is a # and Why Should You Care?

For those of you who have braved the bold new world of Twitter, it’s likely that you’ve come across the symbol #. In the old days, we referred to this as a “pound sign,” generally referring to its use on a phone. Today that symbol is becoming more commonly known as a “hashtag” and it is a powerful tool in the Twittersphere.

Until recently I really didn’t “get it” (and, admittedly, I may still not!). But, last night I met with a former colleague – @KRMJanelle – who brought me up to speed on some social media tips and tricks, the # being one of them.

From what I now (think I…) understand the # can be used by Tweeters in a few different ways:

1) To follow topics that you’re interested in. So, for instance, if you’re interested in marketing and want to keep up with what people out in the Twittersphere are saying about marketing, you could track “#marketing” using a tool like TweetDeck.

2) To increase the odds that people are picking up on your tweets. So, if you’d like to build awareness of yourself as a marketing expert, when you’re sending a tweet, you might include the # within the tweet. Then, those interested in marketing, who are following “#marketing” will be exposed to your tweet and, if it’s sufficiently insightful and brilliant, may choose to follow you – and your network grows exponentially. So, for example, I might tweet something like: “Just came across this great article on boomers and social media – http://ow.ly/1oI2Ac. #boomers #marketing.”

Here’s another good resource that Janelle recommended from@jeffhurt: http://ow.ly/18Dg6 .

Happy hashing! @StratCommun

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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One Response to “What the Heck is a # and Why Should You Care?”

  1. Just learned another piece of info that can help to clarify the use of hashtags. While meeting with a reference librarian for my speech class she compared the use of hashtags on Twitter to the use of tags typically used by reference librarians. Her point was that the hashtags should really be terms that are not already within your tweet – because those are likely to be picked up by search engines anyway.

    So, in the example I used above I would *not* use a hashtag for “boomers” because I used that word in the sample tweet. I would, though, use #marketing because that word was not used and those interested in marketing might be interested in the post.

    The goal, therefore, seems to be using hashtags as an additional way to help people find your tweet based on other search terms they might be using. Makes sense to me.


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