Monday, March 30, 2015

Mmmmm. Twitter Hashbrowns.

You may have heard of people referring to "Hashtags" when discussing a tool like Twitter, or Instagram or even Facebook. You may have noticed a hashtag in the corner of the screen as you watch a show like Dancing with the Stars (#dwts). You may have seen a commercial or sketch that included the phrase "hashtag" and a hand gesture...
So, what is it?

In this post I will try to give you a brief answer by explaining what it means and what it does. Finally I'll point you to some education-related hashtags you might find interesting.

Let's start with what it MEANS.

The "old timers" will know "#" as the pound symbol or the number symbol. (That's what it was on my typewriter.)
Now we refer to it as a "hashtag", so #hashbrowns would be spoken as, "hashtag hash browns."
In the world of social media hashtags are used as a label for organizing things, communicating ideas, making a joke, etc. One author has suggested that hashtags are like a new form of punctuation to communicate a wide range of emotions, ideas, and organizational structure.
Wow. That'a a lot to take in.
As a beginner, one of the best ways to start is by thinking of these as an organizational structure. In other words, you would use a hashtag to label postings that go together.

This gets us to what it DOES.

Putting a hashtag on a post communicates something about the post.
Again, let's just focus on the hashtag as an organizational structure.
As an example, if you post to Twitter about the MACUL conference in 2015, you could mark your tweet with the hashtag, "#macul2015". Others at the conference would mark their postings with the same hashtag, so a search on Twitter for #macul2015 will link you to a listing of many ideas, reflections, pictures, etc. Many of them will be related to the 2015 MACUL conference. The hashtag has organized all of these into a single group.
Just be aware - there are no "police" for a hashtag - anyone can make up any hashtag they like and use it as they wish. And a post can have multiple hashtags.
Again, an example...
Marvin Acul (often known as M. Acul) is running for county sewer manager in 2015. He can post water treatment facts on his Twitter account and use the hashtag #macul2015 to let people know about his run for office. He's not breaking any rules. There are not any rules about this. Marvin's search for posts about his bid for office (labeled #macul2015) will soon be tainted with all of the happy posts from MACUL attendees and presenters.
In our example, the hashtag (#macul2015) is a label for organizing posts. As I stated earlier, the hashtag as an organizational structure is only one way to use it. As you use social media, and as your awareness of the hashtag grows, you will see it and begin to understand its possible uses.
I found this article very helpful in making sense of hashtags:
#Hashtagology 101

Some Education-related hashtags

As promised - but first a little "warning/unsolicited advice"
This is a list of links. It WILL become outdated. The BEST way to find the BEST source for you is to connect to some others (follow some Twitter users), narrow your list down to a few people who make you think (not just who you like), and pay attention to their hashtags. And if you haven't tried Twitter yet, by golly, look back at a post from a few weeks ago - but keep in mind - hashtags are not just for Twitter.
Again, these lists might be helpful, but your best results will come from connecting with others.

1 comment:

  1. Hashtags can be applied to products other than Twitter, too. I've used them with success on Google+.