One of the things about twitter is that it happens fast and often! Depending on how many people you’re following, how many accounts you have, you can miss tons of posts. I’ve also been trying to figure out how useful it is to have twitter tweeting away at you if you have to sit on top of it, watching for the good stuff. Enter hashtags.
Hashtags were developed as a means to create groupings on twitter. They are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to tweets. You create a hashtag right in your post by using the hash symbol in front of the word that you want to start indexing: (i.e. #hashtag). The site hashtags.org provides real-time tracking once you opt in by following @hashtags in twitter. The potential is on par with the tagging service in Flickr. There may be some etiquette to navigate with the use of hashtags - not everyone loves them.
Over at the twitter.pbwiki.com/Hashtags wiki they offer this advice:
The use of hashtags is still an emergent phenomena, and as such, etiquette is negotiable, though some have already expressed their distaste for hashtags.
Used sparingly and respectfully, hashtags can provide useful context and cues for recall, as well as increased utility for the track feature. Used excessively can cause annoyance, confusion or frustration, and may lead people to stop following you. It’s best to use hashtags explicitly when they’re going to add value, rather than on every word in an update.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to focus on your update first, and only if it quantitatively adds value, to append one-three hashtags. There are no hard and fast rules, but Twitter should continue to be about answering the simple question: “What are you doing” rather than “What tags apply to what you’re doing?”
Oh, and of course there are cool graphs involved!