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Before I go to any conference or event, I determine whether
there's an official hashtag for it or one that attendees are using. Why? I've
found the best way to find out what's resonating with people at an event is to
see what they're sharing on social media. Hashtags make it super easy to join
conversations, find like-minded individuals and organizations, and discover
important topics or news.
Hashtags were developed by Twitter as a
means to build community:
"Used sparingly and respectfully, hashtags can provide
useful context and cues for recall, as well as increased utility for the track
In technical speak, hashtags are a form of a metadata tag.
When you put a "#" in front of a word, it gets tagged and is
searchable on the platform in which it is used. Hashtags were started by Twitter, but are now
supported by Facebook, Instagram, and Google+.
Here are a few tips on using hashtags based on my own
personal social media experiences as well as some advice from experts:
There are a couple of ways to track hashtags. If you use a
social media dashboard, like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you can add
a column that displays tweets with that hashtag. That's usually how I track
hashtags at conferences or events.
If you're tracking hashtags across platforms or require
deeper analytical data, there are plenty of tools out to use. For example, there's also an aptly named app
called Hashtag that can track hashtags on
Twitter and Instagram. RebelMouse is
another popular tool to monitor hashtags across platforms. Read this blog by
the Social Media Examiner for even more hashtag tracking
There's a rumor going around that Twitter might get rid of
hashtags and direct "@replies." The social network's head of news
partnerships remarked that the @replies and hashtags were "arcane"
part of Twitter. When asked to clarify, Twitter representatives explained that the
company is exploring new systems of communication, but not retiring hashtags.
On the other hand, Buzzfeed reports that Twitter is indeed eliminating hashtags.
Eliminating the hashtag can be both good and bad for users. While Twitter will likely keep some sort of tagging or grouping
feature, changing social media habits can be difficult for those of us who rely
on the #hashtag. But if Twitter can make a metatagging feature that is easier
to use and more accessible to more users, I say go forth!
Do you hashtag? Log in and let us know how you use them at
your organization (or personally!) in the comments below.
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.
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