Day 7 of #YSJ10DoT: Hashtags and Trends
Welcome to day 7 of 10 Days of Twitter, by now you should have created and personalised your account, followed some people and sent out some tweets and retweets. Today we look at hashtags and trends.
Hashtags (using the # symbol) is where Twitter really gets interesting, the hashtag is a form of metadata. A # in front of a word signals that it is a keyword of some sort. Putting the hash symbol before a word or words, ‘tags’ it as key (hence hash-tag). This means that you can easily search for all other tweets containing that word. In fact, you don’t even need to search – if you click on any hashtagged word, Twitter will find them for you.
The hashtag for 10 Days of Twitter is, as you’ve guessed, #YSJ10DoT. You can therefore search for any tweets containing that hashtag, whether you follow the people using it or not. It’s how we found out who was participating in the 10 days of Twitter, right on the very first day when you sent a tweet containing the #YSJ10DoT.
Mac user tip – if you’re a Mac user and wondering where your hashtag key is, there isn’t one! You’ll need to press the alt key and the 3 key together to make the # symbol!
A hashtag needs to be a single word, preceded by a #symbol, with no space in between and no punctuation – an & or ! symbol, for example, would break the hashtag so that only the first part would be tagged. It doesn’t need to be a real word – it can be an acronym of some sort, like #YSJ10DoT, but it needs to be understood, known or guessed by the people to whom it’s relevant. It could even be several words run into one (which counts as one word!) such as #ILoveTwitter or #YorkStJohn (it helps to capitalise the individual words to make it easier to read). What it should be above anything else, though, is short, so that it doesn’t use up too many characters!
How do you know what hashtags to use, or to search for? You make them up! If you’re creating a new hashtag, it’s good to do a search first and check if it’s been used before, and if so, whether you are going to use it in a similar way for similar people. If so, you’re joining a larger, pre-existing conversation! If not, then you might be confusing things, with a hashtag meaning different things to different people. If you’re talking to a limited, known group, as I am here, or as you might at a conference, then the hashtag might be meaningless to outsiders (which is probably fine – people for whom it’s relevant will probably be aware of it already or easily figure it out). If you’re creating a hashtag hoping to start a larger discussion which is open to all, then it needs to be self-explanatory and something that someone might very likely search for or guess – for example, the #YSJEnglish tag, created by York St John module tutors for PGCE Primary students studying children’s literature. You can search for hashtags using the search box at the top of your Twitter screen. Clicking on the hashtag in someone else’s tweet will find all the other recent tweets using that hashtag.
If you’re signed in on a desktop or laptop computer, Trends are listed on the left-hand column of the Home, Notifications, Discover and Profile pages. If you’re using a mobile device, Trends are displayed on the Discover timeline, which is accessed by clicking on the magnifying glass icon on the bottom menu.
When you hear the phrase ‘trending on Twitter’, it means that there are a lot of people talking about the same thing, using a common hashtag. By default, Trends are determined by a Twitter algorithm and are tailored for you based on who you follow and your location. You can choose to show Trends based on another location by:
- clicking on Change in the Trends box in the left-hand column of your Home timeline
- selecting Change
- clicking/searching for a new location.
- Twitter: Using Hashtags on Twitter
- Twitter: Hashtag Best Practices
- Twitter: FAQs about Trends on Twitter
|<<< Day 6: Retweeting||Day 8: Using Twitter Lists & Tweetchats >>>|
Ten Days of Twitter for Learning Developers was originally adapted from a similar programme for STEM researchers, also created by Helen Webster. The materials are available under a Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA.
The 10DoT Badges are adapted from those issued by University of Sussex’s Technology Enhanced Learning Team, which were also licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Ten Days of Twitter has been adapted by Technology Enhanced Learning for use at YSJ, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License.