When I say Hashtag, you say HUH?!

If you google “definition hashtag” here is what you get:

“In online computer systems terminology, a tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching.”

Ummm….WHAAAA?!! I can feel your blank stares right now. What does hashtag mean?! More importantly, how is using one going to help you and your company?

I am often asked some version of, “Umm, hey Bex, what the hell is this hashtag thing I keep hearing about?!” Basically, a hashtag is a word or phrase immediately following a pound sign (#) that is used in Twitter. Its purpose is to organize conversations.

For example, if we wanted to talk about how big Angelina Jolie’s butt is getting (Don’t worry. It’s probably not…but a girl can dream.), we might create a hashtag like #JolieAssGate. Then, whenever anyone had a comment about the subject matter, they would add the hashtag “#JolieAssGate” somewhere in the tweet. Here is an example:

Girl…I heard Virgin Atlantic made her buy two seats on a plane from LA to Africa! #JolieAssGate

Well, now that we have a conversation going about this we can collect all of the comments made with the aforementioned hashtag and run it in its own box on our Angie Has a Big Bootie website or wherever. Or we can just read through them, snickering at how she has FINALLY let herself go and Brad is going to regain his senses, kiss all of those babies of theirs and get back with Jen like a good boy.

Now, you might be one of those people who really doesn’t read People magazine, even when you’re at the doctors office, and you really couldn’t care less about Angie and her big butt. My condolences. But there are other uses for hashtags. For example, the next time you have a conference at your super awesome company, you could create a hashtag for the event like #MDMcon2010. That way, when you and your colleagues tweet about the event, all of the tweets will be captured. You could add a feed to your website and/or blog or even just review the tweets as a way to receive feedback for next years event.

If you still feel like you really don’t “get” it, I’d recommend that you go to www.search.twitter.com and try searching different words and phrases that are relevant to your industry. That’s how I started really getting it, which led to my really liking it. A lot.

Feel free, as always, to hit me up if you have any questions.

Posted on: December 16, 2010, by : bex