Definition of Hashtags:
Hashtags are a way of tracking topics on Twitter and other social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest. When you use hashtags, you can help people who are interested in your subject matter find your Tweets.
An example of a Tweet with a hashtag in it might look something like this:
Confused by #Twitter slang? "Twitter Terms for Beginners" explains all of the jargon you need to know: http://contests.about.com/od/sweepstakesglossary/tp/TwitterTermsforBeginners.htm
In the example above, "#Twitter" is a hashtag.
Why Do People Use Hashtags in Their Twitter Posts?
With Twitter in particular, it can be hard to find the posts you want to read and the people who discuss topics that interest you. There are so many Tweets being posted at any given time that wading through them is difficult! Hashtags help solve that problem by making it easy to search for Tweets with hashtags that are interesting to you.
Some hashtags that sweepstakes fans might enjoy include:
If you search Twitter for those hashtags, you will receive a list of all of the recent posts people have made on those subjects. This is an excellent way to learn about new contests.
If you use a Twitter client like TweetDeck, you can set up permanent searches for topics that interest you, so that you have a constantly-updated source of information.
How to Use Hashtags in Your Posts:
You add hashtags to your Tweets, Pins, or Facebook posts by using the number sign, #, and a word that defines the Tweet's topic. For example, #sweepstakes or #about. You can include more than one hashtag in your Tweet, if appropriate.
How do you decide which hashtags to use? Well, you can come up with your own, or use hashtags that you've seen other people put in their posts. If you'd like some inspiration, Hashtags.org lists hashtags that are currently popular (trending) on Twitter.
Hashtags don't have to be about a topic; they can also encapsulate a mood in your post. For example, if you post about winning a prize, you could use the hashtags #soexcited and #lovewinning! .
Using Hashtags to Enter Twitter Contests:
Many Twitter sweepstakes use hashtags to identify entries. You may be asked to answer a question, give an opinion, or share a story, followed by a specific hashtag to enter.
Here's an example of a hypothetical invitation to enter a Twitter sweepstakes using a hashtag:
Send a Tweet about your favorite summer memory followed by the hashtag #winningsummer to enter.
An entry into that sweepstakes might look like this:
My favorite summer memory is going to the state fair with my family when I was 5. I won a prize at ring toss! #winningsummer
More Information about Hashtags:
Want to know even more about hashtags? About.com's Twitter expert shares the History of Hashtags.
If you'd like more information about how to find popular hashtags and what's trending right now, About.com's Personal Web expert has an article about How to Find Hashtags and Use Them on Twitter.
And if you'd like to start entering contests using hashtags, visit the Twitter and Social Media Contests section of the About.com Sweepstakes Forum.
Also Known As:
Alternate Spellings: hash tags
Tip to win sweepstakes: use a separate email for entering. #sweepstakes #about ("#sweepstakes" and "#about" are both hashtags)