One of the best ways to get over a fear of water is just to jump in with your eyes closed. And this trick works with Twitter, too. I know a lot of people don’t really understand hashtags, and think of them as some mysterious and scary nebulous “thing” that they’ll never really be able to use – so today I’m recommending you hold your breath, jump into the deep end, and create your own hashtag. I guarantee it’s not as scary as it seems.
For Twitter newbies (and we were all there at one point, don’t forget), hashtags are confusing. It’s not clear who creates them, how they are being used, and what they really mean.
If you’re in this camp, I’ve got a primer on Hashtags for you to read. This should clear up what they are and why people use them. Now it’s up to you to put them into practice.
If you didn’t want to read the above article, I’ll paraphrase for you: hashtags are any string of characters (no spaces) following the “#” sign. So “#JohnStewart” is a hashtag, and so is “#icantbelieveshesaidthat”. Anyone can create a hashtag on Twitter, and if a significant number of people use it at once, it becomes one of the top ten “Trends”. The trending hashtags are no different from non-trending hashtags, except that they are being used by more people.
So now that you have some grasp of what a hashtag is, here’s your homework for the weekend: I challenge you to create a hahstag, and use it a few times throughout the next week.
Here are some examples to get you started:
- If you’re a marketer, you could create a hashtag like “#marketing101″ and add it to the end of a handful of basic marketing tips you send out.
- If you’re into music, try including a hashtag like “#ShouldBeATop10Single” and tweet out a song or two that you really do think should have made it to the top 10 on the charts.
- If you are a tech addict, you might want to use a hashtag like “#ilovethisgadget” whenever you tweet out a product recommendation.
Hashtags were originally created by the Twitter community. They’re something that happened organically, as people tried to find ways to organize their tweets. If you can acclimatize yourself to hashtags by creating and using your own, you’ll be much more comfortable navigating the trending topics and understanding what other people’s hashtags mean when you see them in your timeline.