twitter hashtag tweetchat tutorialIf only I had a free week long vacation for every time someone asked me what the difference is between a Twitter hashtag and a hash brown, I would be living permanently on a quiet, remote island and probably not writing this blog post!

Explaining the difference between a hashtag and hash brown is one of my favorite questions to answer. Often times, the people who have the guts to ask are the ones who get it the quickest. Why? Because as I always say, social media is about people. It's about conversation. It's about having a conversation to connect with real people. Social media simply makes it easier to do such. Social media is not rocket science.

So, let's get to the point of this post. What exactly is a hashtag? And most importantly why and how is it any different than a hash brown?

For fun I broke this post into two categories. The first is a frequently asked question (FAQs) section and the second is a traditional 101 summary.

Read, enjoy and consume until your heart is content.  Since websites are close to impossible to eat, I am fairly confident there won't be any lawsuits being filed against me because of my recommendation to tell you to consume the below information. ;)

Hashtag vs Hash brown Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

twitter hashbrown hashtag tipsCan you eat them?
Hash brown: Yes
Hashtag: No

Are they required?
Hash brown: No, just a nice added extra to what is usually a breakfast meal.
Hashtag: No, they can be included in a tweet.

Why would I use it?
Hash brown: To make your breakfast more fulfilling, to add a different flavor or consistency.
Hashtag: To make your conversations reach further, to enable people to connect with consistency to your community and communication.

What are the real benefits? 
Hash brown: You get a full belly.
Hashtag: You connect with more people, join a conversation, feel smart (joking, but it does happen to some people! ;))

What are the cons?
Hash brown: You might gain a little bit of weight if you eat too many.
Hashtag: They can negatively impact your Twitter results if used too much.

Is it bad if you consume too many of them? 
Hash brown: Potentially, yes. You could gain weight and not be very healthy.
Hashtag: Yes, it can make  your tweet hard to read or annoying to read. Plus, too many can impact if people choose to share your tweet or not.

Does everyone like them? 
Hash brown: Nope. Not everyone. Definitely a personal choice.
Hashtag: Nope. Some people will complain about them. They may even tell you they don't like you using them. Remember though that there is only one way to do social media and that is the way that works for you and your business.

Are they unique? Is there a hash brown or hashtag the same?
Hash brown: There are all different kinds of hash browns. Each hash brown is unique even though it may look the same.
Hashtag: Each hashtag is unique. Before you choose a hashtag be sure there is not already someone else or another brand actively using it.

Do all events have them?
Hash brown: Nope. Usually only events with breakfast and a cook that likes hashbrowns.
Hashtag: Nope, but more event organizers are catching on. Check out this article for best practices for integrating social media into live events. -> How to Integrate Social Media Into Conferences & Events; 24 Tips to Increase ROI

Which came first the hashtag or the hash brown?
I am confident the hash brown came first! Twitter user, Chris Messina @chrismessina first tweeted using a hashtag in August 2007 as a way to define groups on a social media site. It didn't take long for others to catch on and quickly start using hashtags as a means to connect people and build community around specific topics and interests.

Hashtag 101: What is a Hashtag?

Hashtags as defined by Twitter

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

Hashtags basically make it easier for people with interest in a specific topic, hobby, or brand to communicate. Topics can literally be about anything. From brands, business, tools, technology, food, conversation, television programming, animals, education, kids, babies, adults, diseases, to ice cream. Chances are if you can think of it, there is probably or will soon be a hashtag for it.

Hashtags help us communicate. 

Bottom line, a hashtag is a way for us to communicate on Twitter about a specific topic or event.

A hashtag will look like any of these examples: #hashtag #tweetchat #GetRealChat #sm #Foodie #BigData #SmarterCommerce #BeYou #Twitter. We use hashtags to search for topics as well as to engage and manage tweet chats. We put a “#” at the front of the word. The word with the “#” is included at the end of or in the tweet to enable it to be searched for on Twitter and filtered and displayed during a tweet chat.

#GetRealChat Twitter Chat CommunityWhat is a Tweet Chat?
A tweet chat is simply a fun way to get tweeps (people who tweet) together at a determined time to talk about a pre-determined subject via Twitter. Hashtags help the tweet chat participants organize the conversation and connect with one another. Some of my favorite chats include #GetRealChat, #CMChat, #MediaChat, #BlogChat, #LinkedInChat, #ToolsChat, #DadChat, #SMManners, #PinChat and many more. Check out Tweet Chats 101 – 41 Success tips for Moderators, Participants & Guests

What is the format for a Tweet Chat? 
Formats for tweet chats will vary based upon preference of host, participants, topic, industry etc.  Some chats are open forum where as others stick to specific questions.  Many hosts will have guests and subject matter experts to share information and best practices to help the community learn, grow and connect.

A few of the guests we have had on #GetRealChat include IBM Smarter Commerce, Walgreens, AT&T Wireless, UPS, ING, Whirlpool, SHOPdotCAKred, Klout, Webtrends, Argyle Social and many more. Forrester Research, IBM and SAP will be joining us as guests before year end as well.

Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about how you can sponsor #GetRealChat and explore the possibilities of being a guest on an upcoming chat.

Why join, be a guest on or moderate a Tweet Chat?
Tweet chats offer many benefits including building community, making new friends, learning from others, connecting with like minds, connecting with industry influencers, increased brand awareness, discussing interesting topics or simply just stepping away from the daily grind. Chances are you'll get more followers and visits to your blog if you are part of the active conversation. Tweet chats are also a great way to conduct market research by learning about a specific niche or target market.

How can I find a Tweet Chat that might interest me?
Best resource I have seen is here on this Google doc which lists most of the existing tweet chats with specific times, topics, and moderators.  We are currently developing a new site here to support tweet chats and other tweeting activity in general. If you are interested in helping us launch the site, partner with us or contribute as a guest blogger please contact us via our web contact form here-> Marketing Nutz.

What tools do I use to filter the tweets using the hashtag for the tweet chat?
Although there are many, my favorites are Tweet ChatTwebEvent and SeeSaw. You can also use Tweetdeck or HootSuite to filter by column. However, the key benefits of tweet chat and TwebEvent is that they automatically add the hashtag to the end of your tweets after you successfully sign in using your Twitter account.

Check out this video for a quick walk-thru of how to tweet into a tweet chat using the user interface.

Additional Resources: 


A few of my favorite Tweet Chat and hashtag tools:

  • ChatNutz.Net – Will be a one stop shop for everything chitter chatter including tweet chats, radio, podcasts and more! Launching soon. Sign up for updates.
  • SeeSaw– Beautiful streaming and visual depiction for chats. Great for events and tracking of key conversations and  tweets from specific users.
  • – Tool for filtering tweets by hashtag. Often used for tweet chats.
  • – Tool for filtering tweets by hashtag. Used for tweet chats. Includes ability to add questions, etc.
  • Storify – Tool for curating Twitter conversations based on specific criteria such as hashtag, username, favorited tweets etc.
  • Hashtracking – reporting tool for hashtags, tweet chats etc. Provides basic statistics including reach, top tweeters, mentions as well as a full transcript.

Take Action & Get a Grip on Social Media

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See original article on our CEO Pam Moore's blog at Pam Marketing Nut