Hashtags and Mentions

by Jeffrey M. Welch

Check out the Twiterversity guide for more.



What is a #hashtag and why should I use one?

You may remember the humble “#” symbol. We used to call this the “pound” sign in the days of telephones. A few years ago, Twitter and others (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, etc.) appropriated the symbol and introduced another term into common usage called the “hashtag”. A hashtag allows you to hint your social network that a word or term might be useful as a search term. By adding # and any word, even one you might make up, into your tweet, others using the same term can connect to your comments. On Twitter, if a hashtag is “trending” many users are using it simultaneously and it may start to show up in many places. Trending is often the result of a major newsworthy event happening. Some users will also try to hijack a trending hashtag by adding it to their messages in hope of getting many users to see their tweets. Avoid this behavior, but be aware that it happens.

What is an @mention?
If you want to bring something to someone’s attention on Twitter, you can mention them. Write your tweet and include a username toward the end, like this: “Awesome #tweet @jeffwelchmod”. This mention would bring your tweet to my attention, and I might have an opportunity or desire to interact with it. Mentioning a user that will not be interested is probably pointless and likely annoying to many users. So you should stick to things that are about them or you know they will want to interact with. A common twitter behavior is to mention new followers, or randomly add them into tweets. I am not a fan of this, it clutters your feed and provides no real benefit to the mentioned user.

Check out the Twiterversity guide.