What is this Twitter Hashtag stuff anyway?


Up until recently I thought that hashtags were used for twitter searches. You’d click on a hashtag and see all the posts written by people using that hashtag. I thought that this was all there was to it.

Though technically this is somewhat accurate, there is so much more to it.  What I did not know is how people use these hashtags to host entire conversations on twitter. In fact when using hashtags it feels like you have entered a community of like minded individuals within the massive twitterverse.

My first encounter with this type of usage was with the lovely fashionista @cammipham of www.cammilicious.com. I inquired about and attended #rbchat relationship building chat. I met some really cool people and enjoyed the chat with everyone, it was just like being in a chat room, on twitter. Wait, what?

That was my first introduction as to how hashtags can be used more effectively. If you click on #rbchat or any hashtag on twitter you can follow the particular conversation. You will see all the posts that contain the hashtag as well as people engaging one another.

Cammi is the host of #rbchat, the way it goes is that she sets the topic and posts questions on the specified topic. The question portion looks something like this:

Q1 – How can you use twitter hashtags to more effectively connect with the twitter community? #rbchat

The community that is following the hashtag then responds and engages in dialogue. Readers can then respond with something like this:

A1 – I use it to host chats on twitter. #rbchat

Using the above method followers of the hashtag engage in conversation, become friends, follow each other, and get more out of twitter. I used it once or twice with Cammi and the group and now I love it. I am now making use of hashtags to meet awesome people and join conversations on topics that interest me. Who knew that twitter could be used this way? As an I.T guy, I am ashamed of myself for how late I am to the hashtag party! But better late than never, and I am sure I still have plenty to learn. At present I follow the following hashtags on twitter:

#usguys@childhood and @stephenCaggiano introduced me to this one created by a group of friends trying to debate the gap fiasco. This chat is always ongoing, there are always people participating here. Sean @seanmcginnis wrote an awesome article on what it is and how he uses the #usguys hashtag. Take a look here for the piece. Twitter user and #usguys guy @XdeepS shared a site that is dedicated to the #usguys hashtag. Pretty awesome and also provides a great description on how hashtags can be used. Go have a read.  Check out what the unOfficial homebase for #usguys says about the hashtags history:

One day in October 2010, five guys were chatting on Twitter about the Gap logo fiasco when they soon realized that tagging on five names onto every tweet left precious little room for substantive conversation within Twitter’s 140. So, they came up with a hashtag, thereby negating the need for all the @ mentions. That hashtag was #UsGuys.

Chase AdamsTom MoradpourJason MikulaPatrick Prothe, and Christian Gonzalez could not possibly have foreseen what #UsGuys would become. Now between 500-1000 members strong, #UsGuys is an intelligent, passionate community that has revolutionized the way many people use Twitter.

Focused loosely around the topics of marketing, social media, branding, leadership, technology, innovation, and creative pursuits, #UsGuys continues to evolve and expand globally. Now, much more than just a Twitter tribe, our community has expanded into Facebook and LinkedIn, has had multiple meetups around the world, has run structured, content-rich chats and even a 3-day virtual conference, complete with sponsors and prizes! Most of these things began only a few months after its inception!

Now with this online hub, #UsGuys holds much promise for doing even bigger and better things! Hold on to your seatbelts — our best times lie ahead!

#mediachat – @childhood introduced me to this one created by @kilby76. This chat runs every Thursday at 10pm EST. It lasts one hour.

#rbchat – @cammipham introduced me to this chat. She also happens to be the host. This chat runs every Monday at 10pm EST. It lasts one hour.

Now a question for you heavy, experienced twitter hashtag users. What are your favorite iPhone, android, blackberry and desktop clients for managing your hashtag conversations? As you already know, I’m a noobie to the hashtag game and I welcome all and any advice that will make this easier to manage.

Note the date on a post as it may be an old point of view. If you learn that your views are wrong, yet they remain the same, then you are a fool.

The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author.