When we talk to people about Twitter, one thing that comes up time and time again is the fact it’s just so damn confusing.
“All those hashtags – why can’t people just speak English?”
For many, the humble # makes text seem confusing; but the reality is it’s an integral part of how we communicate online these days. As such, if you’re going to use Twitter on any meaningful level, you need to find out how to use them.
The purpose of a #hashtag is to turn any word (or string of words) into a searchable link. Why’s that important, you may well ask (and again, many do).
Essentially it means you can organise your own content, and track specific topics of discussion based on those particular keywords.
Like cake? Who doesn’t? Type #cake in to the Twitter search bar and BOOM – everyone else’s Tweets about #cake will immediately appear in chronological order.
What can you include in a #hashtag?
The reality is you there is no pre-determined list of #hashtags. Of course there are many that are popular, either trending temporarily, or sticking it out for the longhaul. But if what you want doesn’t exist, you can simply create your own.
The key thing to remember is you can’t use spaces. If you do add a space, then the next character will form outside of the linkable #hashtag. Even if you are using multiple words in the same #hashtag you MUST NOT use a space.
If you want to make your #hashtag easier to read, then consider using uppercase letters for the start of each word, for example #LuLovesShoes.
The good news is this won’t change your search results – #lulovesshoes would appear, regardless of capitalisation.
Numbers are supported, so tweet about #50ShadesOfGrey to your heart’s content. However, punctuation marks are not, so commas, fullstops, exclamation points, question marks and apostrophes are out. Forget about asterisks, ampersands or any other special characters.
Make yourself heard
How and why you use #hashtags will depend largely on what you’re trying to achieve, and also your style, tone and voice.
Lu likes to use her #hashtags as an aside, or to convey personality, humour (or more likely, sarcasm). Her current favourites include #SendCoffee #ShoeLove #ShoeGoals #MumOf5 #WhyGodWhy
The key to Twitter is getting involved. Why not spend some time looking around, searching existing #hashtags and seeing what other people are doing?
Remember, we’re here to help – so if you need a crash course, or just have a quick question, don’t be afraid to get in touch. Drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0161 883 2024 or leave a comment.