The digital scholar
The digital scholar

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The digital scholar

1.6 Exploring Twitter

This activity offers an opportunity to investigate hashtags and how they are used on Twitter.

Activity 1 Hashtags

Allow about 20 minutes

If you are not familiar with the use of hashtags watch this short video before continuing.

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Transcript: What is a hashtag?

What is a hashtag? Hashtags signify the theme of your content. A hashtag is made out of a pound sign attached to a word or phrase. Hashtags are used to tag, or group content, of a common topic. A hashtag essentially becomes a hyperlink that when clicked takes you to a search results page of that tag.
Hashtags are a way for people to search for content of a given topic. It is a way to filter down the overflow of online content and find people that share the same interests as you. And although hashtags are most commonly associated with Twitter, they frequently appear on other social networks like Instagram, Google+, and Facebook.
Many brands are promoting themselves using hashtags to grow their engagement with their customers. It is a way to throw your brand into online conversations which then allows you to chime in on the sharable moments your brand has with its customers. For example, P&G started a campaign, "Thank you, mom" which showed images of athletes showing their appreciation for their moms. They promoted the use of the hashtag #thankyoumom so users could connect with an online community that also wanted to show their appreciation. By using the hashtag #thankyoumom, users were not only connecting with each other, but engaging in the P&G brand.
By tagging your content with a hashtag, you are adding it to a group. So let's say you love the TV show Dancing with the Stars and you want to see what team people are voting for. You can search the hashtag #DWTS on Twitter and see what teams people are talking about and join in on the conversation.
Hashtags are also commonly used on Instagram to collect photos from a certain event or brand. For example, people are using hashtags to collect pictures of their wedding that their guests took. When guests of Kate Middleton's and William Mark's wedding tagged their photos on Instagram using the hashtag #royalwedding, the photos went into a collection of wedding photos that people can view by searching the hashtag.
Many businesses are also using hashtags on Instagram to collect pictures of people using their products or visiting their business. The Cincinnati coffee shop, Coffee Emporium, uses their company name as a hashtag on Instagram to collect pictures of their customers enjoying their drinks or working in their calm atmosphere. A business can build their brand by promoting their company's hashtag, and gain customer insight by sharing in their customers' experiences through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Google+.
In summary, hashtags are a way to tag and categorise your content. They bring together people who share common interests and ideas, and want to share their experiences through social media. It's time you connect with your customers through your company hashtag and see what people are talking about.
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What is a hashtag?
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(Note: if you don’t use Twitter [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , the discussion may be more difficult to follow. It is possible to look at Twitter without having an account, though.)

Spend this activity exploring how Twitter users use hashtags and how Twitter allows users to search for hashtags. Consider searching for hashtags that are associated with your institution (e.g. #openuniversity), discipline (e.g. #openeducation) or interests (e.g. #icehockey). Remember that anyone can create a hashtag or use it, so you might want to explore variations on these.

Make some notes and include these in your blog if you wish.

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