Today we’ll explore two commonly used features in Twitter – hashtags and favourites. Review the essential information and then familiarise yourself with both features by completing today’s task below.
What are hashtags?
Hashtags (# symbol) are short codes used to help keep information on similar topics organised on Twitter. You can add a hashtag to any tweet just by using the # symbol followed by a word or acronym, tagging that tweet with a hash symbol (hence hashtag). Hashtags are often used during conferences to allow everyone attending that event to discuss it, even if they are not following many of the people at that event. This means that you can easily search for all other tweets containing a word similarly marked with a hashtag symbol.
The hashtag for this version of 10 Days of Twitter is #UCD10DoT – please continue to use this hashtag when tweeting on this course for the next few days. Note: If you are a MAC user, there is no # symbol on your keyboard, you will need to press alt key and 3 key together.
Guidelines/Tips for Using Hashtags
- If you are creating a new hashtag, search first to check that is has not been used before. Ideally it should be short so that it doesn’t use up too many characters (you only have 140 characters per tweet).
- A hashtag needs to be a single word, preceded by a #symbol, with no spaces in between. It doesn’t need to be a real word – it can be an acronym of some sort, like #UCD10DoT.
- Make the hashtag as self-explanatory as possible, something that people may search for and can easily be remembered.
- If you click on the hashtag, you will find all the other tweets using that hashtag recently. Or you can search for hashtags, using the search box at the top. If you click on the ‘#Discover’ tab at the top of the screen, you’ll see the top hashtags that the people you follow are currently using.
- When you hear the phrase ‘trending on Twitter’, it means that there are a lot of people talking about the same thing using a common hashtag.
- You can search for tweets by hashtag. The search box is at the top of the screen, right hand corner. Once you have searched, a Save option will be displayed at the top right of the central search results column. If this is a search you might repeat regularly, click on this in order to save the search. This is useful if you’re following a hashtagged discussion.
Here are three ways that hashtags can be used in teaching and learning:
- For open and extended discussions
- Live Twitter chats which take place in real-time
- Livetweeting of events e.g. conferences where a pre-agreed ‘official’ hashtag is in use.
Live Twitter Chats
Live Twitter chats take place in real-time. The topic and hashtag are agreed by the leaders and they are joined on the day by people who want to talk about that topic with each other. Livechats can be fast and furious, but are a great way to discuss, make new contacts and share experiences. Here are some example of hashtags in education being used for live chat:
- #EdChatIE – discussions among Irish educators (all levels) which happen each Monday from 20:30-21:30
- #ukedchat – the educational hashtag for UK, with live discussions each Thursday from 20:00 – 21:00.
- #HELiveChat – discussions on a range of general higher education topics
- #Phdchat and #ECRchat – live chats which may be of interest to doctoral students and postdocs.
You can search for hashtags to see what was discussed last time, and join in the next one.
If you see a tweet which interests you and which you’d like to come back to later, you can mark it as a ‘favourite’ and it will be stored for you to return to. To mark a tweet as a ‘favourite’, hover over the tweet, and a star icon will appear below it, next to the ‘retweet’ button. and some other functions. When you want to look at your favourited tweets, you will see them marked in your Twitter stream, but it’s easier to see them all together. Clicking on your profile name brings you to your profile page where your ‘favourites’ as well as your tweets, photos/videos, followers and following are listed (see below). Click on ‘Favourites’ to view. When you favourite a tweet, the person who tweeted it is notified, which may help to gain you an extra follower, but it also gives them feedback on what others are finding useful.