Hashtags are a means by which users of the social networking and microblogging website Twitter categorize keywords or topics. When hashtags are used, user entries on the site become searchable to other users by the word following the tag. Hashtags are used to promote popularity of topics and businesses.
Hashtags were created by Twitter users to draw attention to keywords used in their entries, known as "tweets." A hashtag is designated by the "#" symbol. The word that follows the symbol is the keyword the user intends to be searchable. Twitter users have the freedom to liberally use hashtags in their tweets. If a user wishes to incorporate a phrase following a hashtag, he or she must combine all of the words into one, such as "#twitterhashtags." For a hashtag to be searchable, the user must have his or her Twitter account set to public.
Twitter members can search the website by keywords that have been placed after hashtags and find all corresponding public tweets regarding that topic. This allows you to follow news and information regarding your favorite sports team, movie, news event or any other topic. Tweets that are of specific interest to you can be easily identified with this function.
You can promote your own tweets by using hashtags with popular topics. Whether it is tagging a news event you have input about, or tagging a topic you often comment on, using hashtags can promote your personal ideas to others who have interest in the same topic. Since the keyword or phrase that follows a hashtag can be anything you desire, you can creatively think of ways to allow your tweets to reach more users by what you are tagging. Sharing a specific hashtag with friends can also allow a group of people to stay in touch about an upcoming event.
Companies and organizations use hashtags as a means to promote themselves. A business may tag their name to alert users that may search for them about a promotion they are running or a new product or service they offer. This is a means for companies to freely advertise simply by using what is offered to them by Twitter. While using a hashtag does not guarantee a company is putting various information in front of any users at all, tagging keywords that are relevant to a company's target audience does increase the likelihood many of those that they intend to reach see the tweet.