#Confused. #Disoriented. #Upset. If you don’t understand the ins and outs of the Twitterverse (Twitter and Universe combined – see what I did there? Twitter makes you clever and pithy), these are the ‘hashtags’ you would use.
For those who are still unwilling to give in to the world of Twitter (probably because you know you’ll mildly enjoy it), I’ll illustrate a little background to the tiny and symbolic number sign you may have seen inserted randomly in front of words within news articles, text messages, Facebook statuses and even verbal conversations at times. Yes, we all have friends who actually mutter “hashtag” before some of their most outlandish punch lines. Weird, I know – but it usually gets a laugh.
Anyway, a number sign before a word makes it a ‘hashtag’, and therefore a ‘trending topic’ of conversation on Twitter. In digital terms, it becomes a type of metadata and piece of information that, once it has that little number sign in front of it, becomes searchable. So, if I hashtag the phrase “InANutshell” to be “#InANutshell”, it becomes a clickable word within my tweet that leads me to see all of the other people in the world who could be potentially talking about ‘In A Nutshell’. And, since ‘In A Nutshell’ is one of the better things since sliced bread (#humblebrag) – I’m assuming if I clicked on that particular hashtag, a lengthy list of tweets talking about it would inevitably appear. #Winkwink.
On your Twitter feed, you can see a short list of trending topics in the right-hand panel. So, it’s a quick and easy way to see what popular conversation you might like to join or see what other people are talking about in the world at that very minute – and it’s most likely a list of newsworthy topics or catchphrases people are using. For instance, a good example is the day after the MTV Movie Awards. What was trending that morning? #RobertPattinson – the British Twilight hunk who made a few adorable appearances on stage, won some awards, and therefore sent the Twitter world into a schoolgirl frenzy. #TeamEdward was going nuts.
Aside from the next-to-meaningless news and fun gossip that can come with the hashtag, there is, of course, a more logical and beneficial use of the little symbol: marketing and networking purposes. For instance, I work in Green marketing and communications for a large sustainable development company – and one of the reasons I hashtag words like #green, #homebuilder, #canada, #sustainable, #environment, and #zeroenergy, is so that anyone else in the world who is also discussing these topics can click on the terms and see that my company is having similar conversations. When they see this, they might want to learn more; connect with us, form relationships, and find out what it is that we are doing to be green and environmentally conscious. It raises awareness and sometimes puts people moreso on their designated professional map. You’d be surprised how tweeting at another company, colleague or person of interest for you (while maybe including one of those little number signs) can move you a few steps forward on the networking board.
Now, one of the reasons I thought I’d raise the hashtag topic is because those who aren’t involved in tweeting, retweeting, hashtagging and more – might notice that often these hashtag topics can be pretty out-to-lunch, and they might wonder how on earth could anyone else be discussing them. You’ll often see a very specific and inside joke or phrase with that little number sign stuck in front of it; jokes that are so ridiculously inside that there’s most likely no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that anyone else is discussing it. So, to answer the question of whether or not anyone else is tweeting #ilovetequilaandmy6bestfriends … probably not. Sometimes, we throw in that little number sign to be comical, original, ironic or just to prove a silly little point. Ex: @JessHuddles is ecstatic because she just saw a woman walking three weiner dogs. #livingthedream #someday #realisticallycouldnothandleapet.
These little doodads can be odd, confusing, hard on the eyes, and inserted randomly (#thatswhatshesaid) – but hey, they can also mean for a good laugh, some new connections and an easy way to figure out someone’s bottom line. So, hop on the @Twitter train, #enjoytheride and… #inanutshell… keep those tags coming.