A couple of Twitter basics: Follow Friday and hashtags

I recognize that some of the readers of this blog are new to social media, and one of my original goals in starting the blog was to help others understand some of the key concepts of using social media sites.

Follow Friday

Since it’s Friday, I thought it would be fitting to mention the Twitter tradition of “Follow Friday.” Like many aspects of Twitter, Follow Friday is difficult to understand at first because tweets, which are limited to 140 characters or less, can contain only so many context clues.

If you see a tweet with #FollowFriday or its more abbreviated form #FF, it likely contains the names of other Twitter users. Follow Friday is a Twitter tradition where a user will share the names of other Twitterers on Friday. It’s a great way of introducing people to others.

So if you have a handful of folks that you enjoy and want others to know about them, be sure to advertise them in a Follow Friday tweet or two the next chance you get. You’ll probably find that they reciprocate in the weeks that follow.

Hashtags

You may be wondering about the # symbol in #FF.  The # symbol denotes a “hashtag,” which is a convenient way to tag a tweet. Tagging tweets is useful for adding context, organizing, and increasing visibility. Most Twitter programs, including the Twitter website itself, recognize and hyperlink hashtags so that you can simply click them to perform an instant search of that tag. Searching by hashtag is a great way to find content relative to that tag, and by including hashtags in your tweets, you increase the chances of being found by others with similar interests.

A site called tagdef.com is a great resource for finding out what a hashtag means. For example, if you see a tweet with #hcr, it may not be immediately obvious that it represents healthcare reform, but you can find that out by looking on tagdef.com or a similar sites where users submit definitions for hashtags.

Fortunately, some hashtags, like #actuary, are more self-explanatory. . . at least to those of us who know what an actuary is.

If you have any Twitter questions or tips, let me know in the comments.

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