Note: Originally published on July 28, 2008 (yes, that long ago), it’s now been updated with additional information. Don’t forget to check out the new article on Facebook’s use of hashtags as well.
I’ve recently started using Twitter a lot ( you can follow me at http://twitter.com/KristineWirth) and would sometimes see people who post a tweet using a hash symbol (#) before a few words…I never gave it much thought until another person on Twitter wondered what the hash symbol (#) meant.
Since I had seen it as well, I too got curious and so decided to do a little investigation…here’s what I found…
The hash mark (#) before a word in a post allows you to tag that post for that word. However, in order to get tracked via a hash tag, you need to opt-in and follow http://twitter.com/hashtags. Once you’re following Hashtags, every time you make a post in Twitter and tag it with a hash mark like so: #iPhone, it will then show up as a real-time post on http://www.Hashtags.org.
If you then visit Hashtags.org, you can click on any tag and it will show you all of the posts that have been tagged with that keyword.
I use the term “keyword” with a grain of salt since some of the tags aren’t keywords in the sense that you know them related to search engine optimization, because some of the tags are completely non-sensical in nature. And although you can get a complete list of words that have been tagged on the site, there is no way (at least currently) to search for a specific tag.
However, it is possible to view all tweets (posts made to Twitter) that contain a specific tag by modifying your URL a bit like so: http://hashtags.org/tag/iPhone.
You can also subscribe to any updates that contain a tag by visiting http://hashtags.org, entering in the tag you want to follow and then clicking “subscribe” on the right hand side of the page.
Since Twitter only allows you to post 140 characters at a time you can see how you’d have to be pretty selective when using the hash mark – although one character doesn’t seem like much, you’d be surprised how much you actually need that one additional character when trying to get a point across in your Twitter post.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…have you had experience with the hash mark via Twitter?
A few other alternative sites you might want to check out:
- http://twubs.com/ – Twubs are groups of words using the hashtag in Twitter. It’s kind of a neat little site so I’d check it out.
- http://tagdef.com/ – This site is useful as well. It helps you understand what those Hashtags mean. For instance the hastag #tbt means “Throwback Thursday”. All kinds of goodies here.
- http://www.whatthetrend.com/ – This helps you follow Hashtag trends.
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