Popularized by Twitter, hashtags are keywords used to identify and easily find topics related to a theme. Learn how to use them to easily follow discussions… or highlight your tweets!
Whether you use Twitter or not, you have certainly heard of hashtags, on the Internet, in the press or on television. Because even if they are not exclusive to the social network, it is Twitter with its micro messages – tweets – which have popularized this term. In fact, as publications are limited to 280 characters, it is important to choose your words carefully so that the tweet is impactful and well referenced. And it is precisely the role of these famous hashtags, these curious sequences of characters or words preceded by the symbol # that we see flourishing everywhere. Here is what you need to know about their function and use.
What is a hashtag on Twitter?
Recognized by the Petit Larousse since June 2013, by the Petit Robert since May 2014, the word hashtag has been commonly used on the social network Twitter since the end of the 2000s. hashes corresponds to the brace (#), a typographical symbol often confused with the hash in solfège, and tags means label. Francophones who do not like anglicisms speak of mot-hash, while Canadians say mot-hlick. But regardless of the name used, it describes well what the hashtag represents: a keyword. And its role is quite simply to associate a message with a theme.
By writing #Google, for example, in the Twitter search bar, you can immediately find all the tweets that talk about Google, but also all the photos, videos or people related to the subject. Extremely powerful, the hashtag is an essential element of the blue bird social network. A true thematic label, it is used to filter searches and find a conversation thread. And they work like HTML links. It is for this reason that the hashtags stand out in blue on the news feed as in the messages.
When you open Twitter, on the right side, you automatically see the TTs (Trending Topics, “trendy” topics, in French). Automatically offered by Twitter, they are called “Trends for you” on the French thread. Depending on your location, these trends may change, once you are in a foreign country, for example. These are extremely used hashtags, which relate to a hot topic for example, an important event.
► By clicking on one of the hashtags in TT, the message thread opens automatically and you can read everything related to this theme. Specifically, all tweets that used the selected hashtag.
► You can also search for a person (for example, #JohnnyHallyday or #AllanHoldsworth) or a type of event such as #SaccageParis, a hashtag popular with Internet users which lists all the damage seen in the French capital.
► Hashtags are also useful for following your favorite show live and commenting on what you see (#CashInvestigation, #cdanslair #BonjourDocteur, etc.).
► In general, TV shows regularly display their hashtag on the screen, to group all the discussions concerning them under a single keyword. By clicking on the photos or videos tab, you refine your searches a little more.
There is no specific function to associate a hashtag with a tweet in Twitter. It must be manually integrated into a message by writing it. Obviously starting by typing the famous character, which does not appear by magic.
► On a computer, the cross # is located on the keyboard, in the middle of other symbols. To enter it, use a keyboard shortcut (Alt+3 on Windows and Shift+@ on Mac).
► On a smartphone or tablet, display the virtual keyboard and look for it in the symbols.
► Once you have inserted the #, type immediately, without spaces, the word or sequence of words you have chosen. Example #HowItWorks. The somewhat intellectual usage wants the beginning of each word to be written in capital letters for better understanding. Capital letters make it easier to read the word. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter, it will be indexed the same way #commentcamarche or #CommentCaMarche is therefore your pure choice.
► Even if there is no official limit, avoid hashtags that are too long. A good keyword must be kept short to be effective.
► Do not ask yourself the question whether you should put accents or not, Twitter indexes all hashtags without taking accents into account. You decide.
► Once you have written the entire hashtag and pressed the space key, it will automatically turn blue. It’s normal. This makes it easier to spot.
If the majority of twittos – the nickname of Twitter users… – are content to read the news feed that scrolls before their eyes, some want to write. However, a tweet launched without thinking has almost no chance of being seen, read or taken up. If you feel like starting your own hashtag #DouglasMonChienBoitDuChocolat, it will certainly amuse you, but two hours later, your tweet will have been overwhelmed by the wave of millions of tweets.
► To tweet well, you must position yourself on a hashtag that makes sense and that is related to what you say. If you are walking around Paris and you see graffiti on a famous monument, it is obvious that you will have to use #SaccageParis, an extremely popular and relayed keyword.
► If you don’t know what word to use, then, before writing, read topics related to yours via the search bar (ex: dirt in Paris). Within seconds, the popular # will appear under many tweets, all you have to do is take it back. Example, by relaying one of our articles on Fitbit on Twitter, we used #Fitbit (generalist) but also #FitbitIonic (which concerns the specific watch in question in the article) as well as #Google, a company that owns the Fitbit brand.
► Remember that Twitter is a network of micro-messages, communication and dialogue. Don’t confuse it with Instagram using fifty hashtags in a row. It would be illegible, useless and, above all, very counterproductive. To avoid tiring your audience, be content with three or four hashtags at most, placed either at the end of the line or in the body of your tweet, always ensuring that the text remains clear and understandable.
► To increase your audience and your chances of being read, do not hesitate to use hashtags in English and French together (Ex: #NouvelleZelande et #NewZealand, #Hollande et #PaysBas, #Belgique et #Belgium) .