You have likely seen a tweet on Twitter with a hashtag on the end — one of the most popular and reoccurring hashtags is the tag #followfriday. A hashtag is used to organize tweets around a single topic so that all related tweets are easily searchable on Twitter. When a user on Twitter wants to find all tweets mentioning, or about, Follow Friday, they just need to use Twitter search to find all references to #followfriday. Any tweet that is accordingly tagged will return in the same search result set.
Using a hashtag is useful for conferences and events to keep all mentions on Twitter about the conference or event searchable and accessible in a stream for those using third-party apps. When at an event such as a monthly Social Media Club gathering, event organizers can encourage attendees and participants to tweet about the event and add a common and consistent hashtag to the end of all related tweets. For example, during local Social Media Club events in Seattle, attendees tag their tweets with the hashtag #smcsea. This allows other attendees to follow all related tweets by searching for #smcsea in their Twitter application of choice on their phone when at the meetups. It also encourages discussion about the event using Twitter, as the search for the hashtag can be updated in nearly real-time.
To use a hashtag for events, organizers of the event will want to announce a relatively short hashtag that closely identifies the event well ahead of the event to establish branding. This hashtag should also be well advertised to encourage discussion and buzz about the event before, during, and after. Hashtags are also useful to organize chats on Twitter — many popular “chatroom” style discussions occur through the use of Twitter hashtags on a weekly basis on Twitter. A list of some of the best Twitter hashtag chats to follow, including my favorite – #blogchat — is available at Mediabistro. To use a Twitter hashtag or join a Twitter hashtag chat, you may want to set up a separate column in TweetDeck or HootSuite to stream the search of the hashtag and conversation, or use an app like TweetChat, which is designed specifically for this purpose. This setup works well if you use a Twitter hashtag to follow conversations during events, conventions, or conferences, too.