Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorise messages.

If you are fairly new to social media or like so many people, are still trying to get your head around it all, you may have heard the term ‘hashtag.’ Predominantly used on Twitter, a hashtag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic.

A tweet is similar to a text message, the difference being, it can be seen by the whole world and you have 140 characters to use. Your tweets are public and anyone can read them. Using a hashtag in your tweets can get you involved in conversations, regular re-tweets and also gain genuine followers.

Here are the latest hashtags currently trending on Twitter:

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Essentially, using a hashtag enables you to join in a conversation about topics relating to your organisation or interests. Here is an example of a tweet from BCS, using hashtags:

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Using the hashtag #Windows10 allows not only our content to be seen by other people searching for Windows 10, but it is also a good way of starting a conversation within your Twitter community.

By using the hashtag symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces), you can engage with people on Twitter. Hashtags can occur anywhere in a tweet – at the beginning, middle or end.

Here are some examples of how people and organisations on Twitter are using hashtags, with the intention of the right people seeing:

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So have a go with hashtags, see how you get on and see how many genuine followers you gain from joining in new conversations.

Using hashtags correctly is important – here are four vital tips to remember:

  1. If you tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search on that hashtag may find your tweet, so ensure you are using the right hashtag.
  2. Don’t spam with too many hashtags. Best practice recommends using no more than two hashtags per tweet.
  3. Do not sell directly on Twitter. Your presence on Twitter is not to sell but to be part of an online community.
  4. Use hashtags only on tweets relevant to the topic you want to showcase.

You can visit the Twitter Help Centre for popular Q&A’s on hashtags by clicking on this link.

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