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Ten Ways to Use Hashtags on Twitter

Updated on August 14, 2015

Ways to use - and ways not to use - hashtags on Twitter

So many people have told me in the past that they have taken one look at Twitter and decided that they'll never understand it.

Sometimes, when you see the abundance of hashtags people use, it's understandable that it seems like another language. So what are hashtags, why do people use them and what mistakes do they make? THey are very misunderstood and this article will help you sort out the myths from the facts.

One of the best reasons for using your own hashtag is so that you can follow your retweets, or so that they will be included in one of your curation services such as

But there are other reasons too and I've listed ten of them below - plus a couple of ways not to use the hashtag. If you'd like to see my article about the Top Ten Twitter Mistakes, click here.



1. This is a great way to use a hashtag.

Every Monday at 4pm,fans of Formula One auto racing gather on Twitter for live chat.These are noted by #F1chat.

By using this hashtag, people can either view the conversation or join in. All they have to do to join in the conversation is to use #F1chat and they can have their say.

This example is for sports fans but you can see how this method could be applied to any subject, allowing people all over the world to have their say about a certain subject with like-minded people.

2. The hashtag can be used as shorthand. Here the tweeter is saying that the two organisations she mentioned are the best in the business.The problem is that 'you guys are the best in the business' takes up far more characters so she used a hashtag instead.

For example, a chap might tweet 'Going shoe shopping with the wife. #needoverdraft'

3. Hashtags are wonderful for events.

In this case, LOWWF14 means 'Las Olas Wine & Food Festival 2014'. That's much too long to tweet.This hashtag goes into their promotional materials and ads.

People who are interested in the event can follow it so see what's coming up,if tickets are still available and so on.It can also be used during the event.

Sending images and news from the event itself will encourage others to visit.

4. Ahem. You can see that I had to do quite a bit of editing before I uploaded this image.

But I wanted to show it to you in order to point out that, if you care about the company your tweets keep, it's always a good idea to check hashtags before you use them.'Free' is a pretty innocuous word,isn't it?

And it's so tempting to use it if you're having some sort of giveaway.

But the problem is that the internet is full of, well, porn. Often, those who want to avail themselves of it will have to get their credit card out so there's a large number of people who use #free on Twitter for that reason.The image shows why....

5. They are great for campaigns. See the image below. This one happened in 2010 so I can't find a tweet but here's a screenshot from an article of the day. I'll try to make a long story short.The British sense of sarcasm being as it is, a bloke was getting rather upset that the airport was closed due to bad weather and tweeted, not seriously of course, that if the place didn't get its act together he'd blow it up.You can guess the result. Although at that time he only had a handful of followers, mostly his friends, airport security was over-twitchy and were monitoring tweets. The chap was arrested.See the image to learn more. It does show though that being flippant on Twitter is not a good idea.

6. Apologies for using Formula One again, but it's the only sport I watch.

But this is just an example and you can see how it would work for other events.

No matter how much you love a sport, it's not always possible to watch it live.

Maybe the TV aren't showing it or perhaps, like my brother during the #ChineseGP, you're forced to attend a family picnic. So, using his phone and the tag #ChineseGP he was able to follow the action without missing either the race or the family fun.

7. Develop your own hashtag as shorthand.

The account you see in the image isn't that of Her Majesty the Queen but a spoof account. (And it's very funny).

Part of the fun of the account is that after a hard day's reigning, the Queen gets stuck into the gin at five o'clock - or, as 'she' calls it - #ginoclock'.

But it's even better.The person who runs the account has written a spoof 'Her Majesty' book and the title is, of course. Gin O'Clock. Every tweet and retweet (and they are funny enough to retweet) is an ad for the book. A nice dual-purpose example.

8. Now this just baffles me.

Maybe the tweeter knows what he or she means. Maybe his or her followers know what he or she means. But I don't and I doubt you do either.

This is a typical example of the sort of message that puts people off using Twitter. Social media is all about adding value and where the value is here is beyond me. Say what you mean and add value.

A short while ago I saw a message saying that it's a beautiful day and why not go for a walk. So I did. It was only for five minutes but THAT added value to my day. Value doesn't need to be complicated. (Thank you @graceonline)

9. I mentioned above that it's a good idea to check tags before you use them.

I can understand that to many people #handcrafted seems like a good idea.So take a look at the examples on the right.

They all have the #handcrafted tag but see the products - jewellery, cocktails and peony bowls. Are they the same market?

What else would I find if I looked further into that tag? Handcrafted beers? Wedding cakes? Shoes? A teapot? A sweater? An Aston Martin?

Remember too that long tweets are unlikely to be retweeted so only add tags if they add value.

10. The @iamlasolas account is one of my largest and the person who created this message was right to put my user name in there to get my attention.

But look at the hashtags. The first one, #FTL, is used as shorthand for Fort Lauderdale.All well and good but I imagine that if I looked further, it would be used for lots of other things and some of them unsavoury.I'm wary of that F....

The other, #LasOlas, seems to be sensible too because that is the name of this area. But the trouble is, as Spanish-speakers will know, that in that language it means 'the waves'.

Search for that hashtag and you'll find lots of Spanish-speaking surfer dudes.You probably know the famous story (or urban legend) about the Chevy Nova not selling in Latin America because nova means 'no go'.

Well, it might be as well to check hashtags just in case they can be misinterpreted.

Want to learn more about Twitter? Check out the book below. Make the most of this free service to promote your business or your work. Fortune 500 companies use it and you can too.

© 2014 Jackie Jackson


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