Tweet Your Message to a Larger Audience with Hashtags

Ever wondered what Hashtags are on Twitter? They’re words with #’s in front of them. Today Sherice Jacob (follow her at @sherice) from iElectrify explains what hashtags are and how to use them.

Twitter is a great place to find and follow people with the same hobbies and interests as you have. Unfortunately, once you have as many followers as Darren does, it starts to get overwhelming to stay in touch with them all, and make sure the right information goes to the right people.

Making an appearance at a marketing seminar and love to cook? You’ve got a situation then. How do you make sure you’re tweeting details about marketing events to the seminar group while tweeting your favorite recipes to the cooking group?

Enter Hashtags. A hashtag is a symbol – # – followed by a name that can be used to broadcast to a specific group of people. For example, there’s a group for #googlenews, #love and even #kmart. None is probably more popular right now and relevant than the group created for the Mumbai attacks – #mumbai.

hashtags-index.jpg

Hashtags.org shows the most recent group tweets on Twitter

To see which groups have already been created, visit www.hashtags.org – the official site that creates, organizes and displays these groups. Use the search box in the upper right corner to see if your group name is already available.

If it isn’t, you can create it simply by tweeting and including the hashtag (#) within your post.

The first step though, is to make sure hashtags can index and display your group tweets. Just follow @hashtags and the service will follow you back automatically. Then it’s time to help spread the word about your new Twitter group.

For example – Got a great Twitter tip? Just send it to #TwiTip and you could see it on our blog!

The second step is to get familiar with hashtag commands, so that you only broadcast a message out to the people you want to receive it, those being the members of your hashtag group. Here’s a quick rundown of the more useful ones:

  • Follow #tag – (example: follow #twitip) – lets you follow all updates tagged with #twitip. 

  • Follow username#tag – subscribe to all updates from a certain person that are sent to a group. (Example: Follow problogger#twitip will give you every post by Darren sent to the #twitip group)

  • #tag message – Send a message or question to the group. (Example: #twitip Anyone know a great software program to organize tweets?)

  • #tag !message – Send a message only to people who are subscribed to updates from #tag. (Example: #twitip !How many twitip users post to twitter daily?) 

  • Leave #tag – Unsubscribe from the group. If your friends are subscribed to this group as well, you’ll still get messages from them that include updates for the group. (Example: leave #food will unsubscribe you from the Food group, but you’ll still get messages from your best friend and fabulous cook Jenny whenever she sends a message to #food).

  • Remove #tag Unsubscribe from the group and from friend messages that include this tag. So if Jenny posts a recipe to #food and you’ve typed Remove #food in your Twitter status bar, you won’t see that recipe even if Jenny is on your followers list.

You’ll probably want to print out this set of hashtag commands for future reference. If and until Twitter creates its own built-in service for groups, hashtags is the most up-to-date (albeit unattractive) way to stay in touch and create powerful, profitable groups for expanding your Twitter empire and connecting with people who share your interests.

Comments

  • December 6, 2008

    Thanks, that was a really clear and concise description of how to effectively use hashtags. I’m going to bookmark this site so that I can refer back to it the next time I think a #hashtag would be appropriate! Thanks.

  • December 6, 2008

    Hashtags are great way to reach to larger audience and to stay informed about a particular event. I’ve experienced this in 2 particular instances #hurricaneike and #mumbai terror attacks. The tweets were updates from real people who were tweeting their experiences in real time.

    I was not aware of the shortcuts you mentioned. Thanks for sharing them.

  • December 6, 2008

    We use # tags to run our Twitter wine tastings http://twittertastelive.com and works really well with any of the Twitter search functionality or widgets out there.

    Great article.

  • December 6, 2008

    Cool service, I will try it out.

  • December 6, 2008

    Looks like poor Hashtags has succumbed to this post!!!! 503 errors!

    The “Twittip” effect is in full swing!

  • December 6, 2008

    Hashtags.org is offline very often (503 Service Unavailable and timeouts) and twitter clients like tweetdeck are linking hashtags to the twitter-search now.

    Never heard of the hashtag-groups before or the commands. Thank for the infos. But you have to use them on hashtags.org?

  • December 6, 2008

    Yes, @54degrees is right, not only 503 error but also 504 error, just like:

    504 Gateway Time-out
    The server didn’t respond in time.

  • December 6, 2008

    Thanks for clueing me in, Sherice! I knew I was missing out on something helpful, but didn’t understand the whole thing.

    Nice to be in the loop!

    Jeannette

  • December 6, 2008

    Darren,

    Understanding the use of Hastags is very important Social Media Revelation
    that’s a blessing that helps when Paying Attention to Content for every group.
    When we see the Benefit of never Driving Wedges among the people, then all is
    Plus for mankind. Again, we will Rack this blessing in our UpperRoom-Mindset
    and Champion Business Builders will know where to find the Scoop on Hastags.
    Thanks Again, God Bless!

  • December 6, 2008

    Is there something wrong with the http://www.hashtags.org site? I keep getting the following message… 504 Gateway Time-out

  • December 6, 2008

    The site should be without the www

    http://hashtags.org/

    Using the WWW, you get an error.

  • December 6, 2008

    Great post – exactly what I was looking for this morning! I have been wondering about the hashtags… and will have to check it out more when things calm down :)

  • December 6, 2008

    Ta for that @Infonote I hadn’t realized that I should enter the URL without the www in front.

  • December 6, 2008

    Actually – http://www.hashtags.org/ – works fine. Great little post. One to bookmark as I start using #hashtags.

  • December 6, 2008
    Joe Bonner
    @bonnerj

    @infonote, still got a 503 with your link.

  • December 6, 2008

    Good thema I make a pots in sanish for form dudes that I know it will worth for them.

    The page of hashtags.org sometimes dont work i dont know whats the problems.

  • December 6, 2008

    Great post. I have to admit that I don’t use hash tags nearly as much as I should. It’ll probably make like for my followers a lot easier if I used them correctly.

  • December 6, 2008

    Thanks Seshu. I was getting the same error and I find if I let something like this “pass” I’ll never get back to it.

    Off to explore and learn more about hashtags!

  • December 6, 2008
    Sharon Dexter
    @sharondexter

    Thanks Darren. I’ve been wondering and researching about the hashtag. Glad to finally have a reference on the meaning and the best way to use.

  • December 6, 2008

    Along these lines, I’ve just launched a new service called TwittBot, which allows anyone to create a Twitter group. To post to the group, just send an @reply to that group and it will be republished.

    You can set your bot to be open (anyone can publish except the people you specifically block) or closed (only a specific group of people’s replies will be published).

    Check out TwittBot.

  • December 6, 2008

    Most of the time I use hashtags because it draws the same interest of people for example #iphone or #g1 etc. I have been using hashtags since day 1 and I love the concept.

  • December 6, 2008

    Hashtag keeps Fail Whale-ing on me too. The app is not scalable enough.

  • December 6, 2008

    How cool is that! I had no idea hashtags could add so much to my Twitter experience. Thank you for doing such a simple and thorough job of explaining hashtags. I am off to find some groups. :)

    blessings,
    Wendy

  • December 6, 2008

    Yep, still don’t understand hashtags. I have read and re-read this post. Don’t quite get it

  • December 6, 2008

    Oops…I think we’ve broken hashtags.org. Keep getting Service Not Available.

  • December 6, 2008
    Chris
    @cjow

    Finally! A good explanation of this. Luckily RSS feeds alerted me. Great post! Keep ‘em Coming!

  • December 7, 2008

    Most simple and specific explanation ever for something that lots of folks been talking ’bout but couldn’t quite seem to ’splain. Thanks. I ‘get it’ now.

  • December 8, 2008

    Great post! I have a quick question, though-

    The messages at the end: follow, #tag, etc–do you enter those into your twitter as a “tweet” or is there a separate client that you enter those commands into?

    Thanks Darren and everyone else for your wealth of Twitter-knowledge!

    -Andy

  • December 8, 2008

    An alternative to Hashtags is Twemes.com – it tracks and groups all the same #tags, but doesn’t seem to suffer from connection problems as much.

  • December 8, 2008

    Ahh, that’s how hashtags work.

    Great post, just what i was looking for. I’ve been really impressed with Twitip – Keep up the great postings Darren!

  • December 9, 2008

    I understand hashtags much better now, except for one big thing…. Where do I use the commands such as follow #twitip? In Twitter or at Hashtags.org? Specifics please – where and how do I input the command.
    Thanks!

  • December 9, 2008

    Great article. But it wasn’t clear where you enter the hashtag commands – is this in Twitter or Hashtags.org? Whereabouts in these sites would you enter, for example, follow #twitip? I couldn’t work this out in either site.

  • December 12, 2008

    I tried subscribing to a hashtag in the site, and this is what twitter said: Can’t find that person. Did you misspell the name?

  • December 15, 2008
    Alistair
    @alpinefolk

    Great article Darren. Reminded me to get out and search some hashtags and see who else is tweeting my interests.

  • December 18, 2008

    Tried “follow #twitip” as per your example in the “What are you doing?” text box. Got a “Can’t find that person…” error message.

  • December 18, 2008

    Thanks for your comments! You can use the hashtag comment in Twitter itself. Not sure if Darren has actually set up a #TwiTip group though I’d hope so :) Any one of us could create one as well.

    Don’t forget that you’ll need to follow @hashtags to get them to work!

  • December 18, 2008

    Hi Sherice,
    Thanks for the reply.

    The question I have is not how to use hashtags in my Tweets, but rather how to subscribe to a particular group. In the article above there is a section on hashtag commands and the first command reads, “Follow #tag – (example: follow #twitip) – lets you follow all updates tagged with #twitip.”

    I tried using the command in Twitter for the group #twitip as well as others that I know are established groups (I was able to access hashtags.org for a minute this afternoon and used some popular groups off their list).

    (And yes, I’m following @hashtags)

    Thanks again!

    I went to Twitter.com and in the Tweet form typed in and sent, for example

    follow #humor

    (and several others).

    The result is always the same. Twitter returns the message, “Can’t find that person. Did you misspell the name?”

    So my question remains…. where and how do I use the listed commands. (And if possible, I’d really appreciate specifics, with examples you’ve successfully used.)

  • December 24, 2008

    Same question as Linda above. All I ever get is “Can’t find this person” even though I know the group is established and spelled right.

  • January 9, 2009

    Thanks for the tips on #hashtags. I created a hashtag (#bricktop) but unfortunately it didn’t seem to update to hashtags.org. Is this unusual? Or does it take a while for the hashtag to appear on the site?

    Also, I attempted to try and follow updates that contain the hastag (#bricktop) but I keep getting a message from twitter asking me if I misspelled the group name. Is this also unusual??

    A bit confused, but looking forward to taking advantage of this tool in the future if I can get it working! ;-)

  • January 10, 2009

    I finally discovered that a hashtag can be followed via RSS either through Twitter search, Twemes.com, or Hashtags.org. But I still haven’t found a way to use any of the other hashtag commands above.

  • February 11, 2009

    I had no idea you could do so much with hashtags! Thanks!

  • February 17, 2009

    Simple question, have you use this yourself? How much is the benefit?

  • February 24, 2009

    Sometimes hashtags.org gets inundated with new hashtags being created and is a bit slow to respond. Lots of people use them to keep in touch although I personally see them being used quite often for upcoming events and for larger groups. Clicking on them in something like Tweetdeck will bring you to a Twitter search though which doesn’t help much. Hopefully in the next upgrade they’ll be included.

  • April 7, 2009
    Chris Messina
    @Chrismessina

    Just so readers are clear,the commands listed above don’t, and never have, work.

    I wrote up that protocol when I proposed hashtags, but Twitter never implemented it:

    Http://tr.Im/fj_hashtags

  • April 8, 2009

    Hi Chris,

    That’s interesting as I’ve seen many articles mention them as if they worked fine. I’m seeing a lot more Twitter users include hashtags so I would hope it would be something Twitter would take seriously – especially because of its recent astronomical growth and the need to separate tags and tweets into more logical groups. Thanks for letting us know!

  • April 10, 2009

    Thanks for the info. I will do as you suggest, print this out for future reference. I feel pretty smart already! LOL.

    Sofia Hogan

  • April 15, 2009

    Good tips. Trying them out already!

  • June 21, 2009

    Cool, thanks for the information will try it out for sure.

  • December 16, 2009

    Thanks! This helps.

  • June 24, 2010

    Anyone have any idea why hashtags are not working with my tweets? I put hashtagged words in my tweets and they don’t work. Hashtags work in one Twitter account but not in two others. What’s with that? — J

  • August 27, 2010

    Good stuff. Since reading this i’ve used hashtags in a lot of my tweets and have seen huge increases in traffc. I can really recommend doing it!

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