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A Zen Peacekeeper Guide to Twitter: hashtags and chats

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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Twitter-radish A couple of weeks ago I started a series of short posts sharing what I know about Twitter.

If you missed them, you can read the previous posts:

These Twitter posts will pop up once a week and although I have some ideas
about the topics they’ll cover, please feel free to leave a comment
with any of your burning questions about Twitter.

Last week I talked about retweeting, and this week I promised to talk about hashtag and chatting. I’ve had some specific questions from some of you which I’m going to answer in next week’s Twitter post. So if you have any questions that I haven’t addressed yet, do let me know.

So – what is a hashtag? It’s nothing fancier that adding the # sign to the front of a word. Certain words or combinations of words (it only works as a searchable hashtag if it looks like one word, so you have to join multiple words together without spaces in a hashtag) are used by certain groups or communities to keep track of each other.

One of the first hashtags I discovered was #amwriting – this one is used by hundreds of writers as a way of sharing encouragement, motivation and commiseration about the act of writing.

Another hashtag I’ve used is the #askagent tag, this one is used by agents like Colleen Lindsay and others to host regular chats where anyone can ask them questions. To participate you simply as a question and tag it with #askagent. The agents taking part will see it and then they will reply directly to you. It’s fantastic. I’ve found it really useful.

I’ve been using a hashtag for the 30 days of yoga as well, any time I post about the 30 days I add #30dayyoga to the tweet. Other people taking part do the same. Then, anyone who wants to keep track of tweets about the 30 days can enter #30dayyoga into the search box on Twitter and they’ll see them all. Just like this:

Picture 1

Sometimes hashtags are used to host real-time chats, like the #askagent chat, and for those I recommend using a service called ‘TweetChat‘. On TweetChat you can sign into to a chat using any given hashtag and for the duration of the chat you’ll only see tweets using that tag. The service also automatically adds that hashtag to all your tweets so they are fed into the chat stream.

This is what it looks like when I’m signed in via TweetChat to the #amwriting chat:

Picture 1

I use TweetChat for our #30dayyoga chats and I recommend that you do too. You can sign into TweetChat using your existing Twitter account and then just enter the hashtag that you want to follow. Easy peasy.

Have fun!

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