Twitter Hashtags: What Are They and How to Use Them

Twitter is a complex social media platform, but also an extremely powerful one that is certain to connect you with like minds in real time.  As a follow up to the article How to Effectively Use Twitter for Spas, in this article you will learn about Twitter hashtags and a few ways you can use them to your advantage.

What are Hashtags?
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet.  Twitter users organically created the idea as a way to categorize messages. For example, if you go to the Twitter search box and type in #spa, you will find a list of the latest tweets from other tweeters who used #spa in their 140-character message.  You can use single or multiple hashtags in a search, such as #spa #SanFrancisco.  Tip: a general rule of thumb is not to use more than three hashtags in a tweet or else it may be perceived as spam.

How to Use Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to find users who are interested in a particular topic that you are also interested in.  People use the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords in their tweet to categorize those tweets to show up more easily in Twitter searches.  When you click on a hashtagged word in any message, it will show you a list of all other tweets with that hashtag with the latest tweet showing up first.  Still with me?

Hashtags can be written anywhere within a tweet.  For example, here is one of my tweets using hashtags:

Anyone who is searching for a single or any combination of those three hashtags will see my tweet show up in real time in their search feed.  But because there are millions of tweets every day, keep in mind that the lifetime of your tweet is fairly short.

How to Use Hashtags to Track Events
One of my favorite ways to use a hashtag is to follow the buzz of a conversation before, during and after an event.  For example, the upcoming International Esthetics, Cosmetics and Spa Conference in Las Vegas officially registered the hashtag #IECSCLV11 and is encouraging anyone who is interested in the event (presenters, exhibitors, attendees and non-attendees) to use it in conjunction with the event.  This is very powerful for a few reasons. 

  1. It’s a Networking Tool.  By using and following the event hashtag, you can quickly and easily find and follow relevant people on Twitter.  Don’t forget to engage them by starting a conversation.
  2. Tweetup.Twitter users often love meeting other “tweeps.” With the pre-determined hashtag, we have the ability to connect and meet up (also called “tweetup”) in real time during the event. 
  3. Follow the Event from Elsewhere. As a tweeter, the beauty is if you cannot attend an event like IECSC in person, you can follow the hashtag from anywhere and both listen and engage.  (You may have seen this for the recent Global Spa Summit in Bali with the hashtag #GSS2011.)  Even from afar, you are still able to connect and network with like minds, which is what Twitter is all about.
  4. Find Out What Others Think.  The event hashtag is a great way to get a sense of other people’s opinions.  Of course, the hashtag is only as powerful as the tweeters who use it.  So, in the tune of #IECSCLV11, please join the conversation whether you are there in person or not!

If you have any questions or want to meet me at #IECSCLV11, just send me a tweet @TheZenGirl.  Can’t wait for the event, and looking forward to continuing the conversation!