Hashtags are one of Twitter's most popular elements, and utilising the conversation-tracking feature correctly is something that not everyone can master. There are many of us on Twitter who either simply don't understand how to use them appropriately, or consider it best practice to overuse them.
So, what is a hashtag?
These are simply keywords preceded by a hash symbol (#) – this makes words and phrases both searchable and linkable to Twitter; which becomes a great way to organise conversation within the network.
How should I use them?
There are a number of unwritten rules for hashtags, and although they are not terribly complicated, they are frequently not followed. The primary one to remember: don't overuse them. If every one of your tweets is a hashtag, you dilute the usefulness of them by fragmenting conversation.
Ensure your hashtag has some form of context and meaning, and that it becomes apparent as to what you're talking about, otherwise your followers probably won't know what your hashtag means.
Hashtags are great for involving and engaging yourself in communities and causes, or if you have a particular interest. For example, if you search through Twitter using the #Photography hashtag, you're instantly presented with amazing shots from both professional and amateur photographers-alike.
How not to use them:
#Usingalonghashtagtodescribeanentiretweet can become very annoying for your followers to constantly view - although at times, misuse of hashtags in this instance can add comical value to your messaging, but it wouldn't be considered best practice.
Another similarly annoying misuse of hashtags is when users feel the need to #hashtag #every #word #in #their #tweet. There really is no added value to this method.
Used sparingly and respectfully, hashtags can provide useful context as well as increased conversation over certain subjects. Whereas used excessively, they can cause annoyance and confusion.
When having to create a hashtag that may consist of two words or more, it's a good idea to use the CamelCase formation to maintain legibility.
We hope that the above can serve as a helpful guide to the basics of Twitter hashtags and how to make the most of them.