Twitter Hashtags: Explaining One of Twitter’s Top Used Functions

Twitter Hashtags ExplainedAt 12:25 p.m. Aug 23, 2007, a man named Chris Messina tweeted about the idea of using a # symbol as a way to group conversations on Twitter. It caught on some but ventured only slightly outside the “geekosphere,” as he called it.

Fast forward to noon March 1, 2011, when Charlie Sheen very publicly got a Twitter account. Within days, he catapulted hashtags into pop culture history.

But for being so well known, hashtags are often misunderstood, and subsequently misused or abused. Learning more about how to effectively use the conversation-tracking device can help your brand get the most out of Twitter.

1. Find out who’s talking on Twitter

There are millions of conversations happening on Twitter every day. From the sheer volume, it’s safe to assume no matter what your product or service, there are relevant conversations happening in the Twittersphere. But, another easy assumption is that you’ll have to go looking for them.

You could start by looking at the conversations of people who already follow you on Twitter. Let’s say you own a fitness center. Many of your gym members/followers are likely talking about their obvious interest in fitness. What hashtags are they using that fall within the scope of your brand? You could click on hashtags such as #fitness, #cardio, #dieting, #weighttraining, and on and on and on. In doing so, you’ll unearth a group of prospective new followers talking about things your business can offer them.

2. Find out what they’re talking about

There’s a wealth of information to be gleaned from these conversations, and listening in will tell you what’s important to them.

Back to the fitness center. People could be talking about a new workout program they really like or a nutrition plan that failed. It could be a discussion about which cardio equipment is preferred. Any and all of these conversations can help you better understand your current and prospective customer base.

You should also be constantly on the lookout for hashtags specific to your business. This type of social media monitoring can also give you insight into what your company is doing right and wrong.

3. Find yourself in the conversation

If someone was standing in front of you talking about your business or something related to it, you’d certainly jump into the conversation. You’d answer their questions and ask some of your own. You’d carry on a friendly conversation and be personable. You might even throw in a joke or two. Well, communication online is no different.

If you’re not having fun with your hashtags, it’s pretty well a given that no one else is either. Businesses often overlook the use of hashtags as a way to have some fun and show your personality. Yes, a business can have a personality. Don’t discount the effectiveness of a hashtag that serves no other purpose but to be funny or ironic.


With just a little know-how, you can start incorporating hashtags into your posts. And who knows? With a little practice and maybe some luck, you might someday find yourself with a trending topic. #thankscharlie

Thanks for reading.