I started using twitter about a week before I was hired for a job where I’d be in charge of social media. Coincidentally, I made my profile about an hour after the interview was scheduled. I wasn’t too worried, after all I’d had a facebook since the days where .edu mattered, and a MySpace before that. What was it that twitter had to offer that these other sites did not provide?
Well, let me name a few:
This was all easy to pick up on after I managed to follow about five friends and twenty of my favorite nonprofits, comedians, brands, and then another twenty news-outlets.
The only thing that left me confuddled was their method of searching. You can search for anything. Say you search for “Lynda Foster,” you will get results from anyone who wrote that in any post, and on the side bar people with the name, or tag name, Lynda Foster (me!). But if you searched for #lyndafoster, you would only see comments that specifically used the exact phrase #lyndafoster. Indeed, useing the hash tag (hash tag = #) makes those words pop out in searches, and allows you to create something that is “trending.”
When you make a hash tag on twitter, it turns blue and people can click on it to be taken to a page that shows all the latest posts with that hash tag. If your post is on that thread then people with similar interests browsing the thread will have a chance to see it (possibly giving you publicity or increasing your followers).
Hashtags are used to describe a theme in a very short way (remember, 160 characters to work with). Some of them start up and last a few weeks, some of them are used by one person once and are never picked up by others, and some of them become universally understood and, by declaration of mass use, official.
I feel compelled to point out the risks using hashtags. When something is “trending” it is used by so many people it is amongst the most popular topics in the world, and gets listed on the twitter main page. Often this is for a reason. When #notguilty was trending, the business that tweeted: “Who’s #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!” took a lot of PR heat. The hashtag #notguilty was trending because of that whole Casey Anthony “not guilty” verdict controversy, and it was considered offensive that a company would try to profit off of it.
So, in order to help your understanding of political hash tags, and to help any of your political tweets make it onto threads, below are some a list of hash tags, mostly “official,” used within Washington state and national politics. If I’m missing some (especially funny topics that I did not research in detail) post them in the comment section! I may add it to the list.
General WA state political terms:
#WAleg: Washington Legislature (heavily used when session is in)
#WAGov: Washington Government (often interchangeable with WAleg)
#WABudget: Washington Budget (I don’t see this that often, but during budget negotiations it’s a topic to follow)
#WAdem: Washington democrats
#wcot: Washington conservatives
#WAgop: Washington Republicans, or “Grand Old Party”
National Political Hash tags:
#tcot: Generally, top conservatives on twitter. But there are a few “fun” definitions if you follow the link.
#GOP: Republican, or “Grand Old” party
#HCR: Health Care Reform
#P2: (As defined on tagdef.com) A resource for progressives using social media who prioritize diversity and empowerment, the “progressive batchannel”, and an umbrella tag for information for progressives on Twitter. There is now simple directory of progressives associated with the #p2 tag.
This last election:
#waelex – Washington election (used during this last primary)
#99tunnel – Things related to the referendum in Seattle on whether or not to dig the tunnel in Seattle.
#SaveMetro – The Seattle metro campaign (it’ll do better then Prop 1 in Pierce County did)
#Tacoma school board – The only word to get linked is “Tacoma” but it’s what Dextor Gordon’s campaign was using.
#Tacoma city council – Sure, it was only used once according to my search results, but you get the picture.
Serious topical hash tags:
#FAA: (national) Related to the FFA budget issue that was going on a few weeks back.
#StopGregoire: References that the Freedom Foundation is suing Washington Governor Christine Gregoire for her (allegedly) illegal use of “executive privilege” to hide public information from Washington citizens.
#Compromise: (national) Encouraged by President Obama during the debt ceiling debate to urge republican law makers to compromise.
#supercommittee: (national, and hey, Patty Murray!) The committee of 12 congressmen and senators who will have to negotiate a plan to reduce the deficit, as decided in the debt limit compromise.
#Amesdebate – (national) Referencing the recent Ames debate in Iowa.
#debtceiling – (national) You have probably heard of this.
Less serious topical hash tags (I didn’t look too hard for these, there are definitely many more):
#AccordingtoPalin: Created by the Daily Show after Sarah Palin’s Paul Revere gaff.
#ChangeUCanStepN: As in: “Makes sense that Obama’s black BS bus looks like a hearse. It carries the death of America’s hopes, dreams, & future. #tcot #ChangeUCanStepN”
Painfully obvious things I won’t explain (but are still used so often they deserve a mention):