Starting tomorrow and over the weekend I will be volunteering at Adelaide Start Up Weekend, and helping out on the Fab Lab Adelaide stand at AVCon.  Not only is this a chance for me to hangout with some great people, hear great ideas and see people dressed up in some crazy costumes, it is a chance for me to do a lot of tweeting about what is going on and what I’m up to.

For this tweeting to be useful I need to use hashtags.  When you start a word or phrase on twitter with “#” symbol, that’s a hashtag. A hashtags allow your tweet to be searchable by all twitter users, it connects your tweets to all other tweets with the same hashtag. 

The hashtag symbol has been called many things of the years including the pound key but my personal favourite name is ‘octothorpe’ but what ever it is called social media loves it.

Hashtags help bring tweets together about a particular topic, events, disasters and much more. It is rare to attend an event these days without at the start of the event after being told where the toilets are to be reminded of the event’s hashtag.

Hashtags can allow people who are at an event get a sense of what is going on ‘in the room’ as people in the room tweet about what’s going on. They can also be used for discussions about a particular topic, or allow twitter users to ask questions during a conference or event. 

During the disastrous Queensland floods in 2010 I followed the hashtag #qldfloods for information and updates about what was happening. This hashtag was used by people who wanted to share what was happening, people who wanted information and people who wanted to offer help. I remember at one point the hashtag was being used so much that it wasn’t possible to read the tweets as they were whizzing past on my screen.

Whilst watching the late news tonight I was encouraged to ‘join the conversation’ using a hashtag, personally I find it best to avoid ‘joining conversations’ about the news and programs like “Q and A” as I not only shout at the TV I start shouting at my laptop (and I don’t think that’s very healthy).

In Adelaide the #socadl is a hashtag used by social media junkies, novices and to promote social media focused events especially those organised by the @socadl group. My favourite hashtag is #firstworldproblem a hashtag that is used by people complaining about small things in their life. It is a way to let the reader know it isn’t a completely serious tweet.

Hashtags can help give your tweet some tone, which can be quite difficult in 140 characters. 

If you are a twitter novice I can highly recommend you have a go, set up an account find some interesting people to follow and find some hashtags. Twitter only works if you follow people they are your source of news, entertainment and often just plain weirdness. But Twitter has been proven over and over again to be a powerful tool in times of crisis, political change and personal triumph.

I’m proud to have worked as part of the team that created ForwardIT a wonderful website full of resources to help you learn more about the online world (I’m sure I will be posting more links in the future from ForwardIT). If you are new to Twitter, here’s a great video to help you learn more.

If you are feeling super keen you can follow me at @adelsalison


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