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Twitter Hashtags and Chats

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A recent post from RedWriteWeb provides an answer to the question “What is the point of: #Hashtags?” Part of an going What is the Point of Series, the hashtag topic is of interest for Twitter users as well as those who want to keep up with popular topics, events, meetings, or even have learning experiences through the use of social media.

Hashtags are a great way to label tweets and information when sharing with at group. Adding a hashtag to a tweet will label the information and allow it to show up in a hashtag search with other tweets containing the same hashtag. The hashtag adds metadata to the tweet.

Hashtags can be used for humorous purposes, networking, sharing information, and have even been used in emergencies. Using search tools on sites such as Twitter you can search for specific hashtags and check updates as new information is tweeted with the hashtag. Don’t forget that adding a hashtag to a tweet requires using the # symbol before the words or letters designated as the tag. Often hashtags are set up before meetings and events so that everyone attending knows the hashtag to use.

One of the growing trends with hashtag use is for information sharing and idea exchange. The Medical Library Association (MLA) typically promotes the use of hashtags at annual meetings so that users on Twitter can keep up with what is happening at the meeting. You can still find many tweets about the 2012 MLA Annual Meeting by searching for the #mlanet12 hashtag. You may also see some users are already talking about next year’s meeting using the hashtag #mlanet13.

Because hashtags are easy to search and follow, another use of hashtags on Twitter is in the form of chats. Using a hashtag users can tweet about the same topic and see real-time results from others using the same hashtag. In many ways a dialog can form, ideas or experiences can be shared, or questions can be answered.

Many library groups are already using hashtags to have successful Twitter chats. A list of 20 Essential Twitter Chats for the Library Crowd lists some of the more popular chats. On Thursday, June 21st, for the first time, medical librarians will have a live chat using the #medlibs hashtag. This is a first time attempt at an organized medical librarian chat on Twitter but continued chats are expected. Everyone is invited to join the conversation using the #medlibs hashtag.

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