#Hashtag or @mention?

Someone told me I should call my blog ‘The Alexis Bailey Daily’ but that would mean having to post every day and I don’t think I can manage that. But I do need to post more than once every four months, so I’ve decided if I’m busy I’ll just keep it simple.

I train people on using social media and this is a question I get asked repeatedly:

What’s the difference between a hashtag and an @mention?

Well they’re both tags but they serve different purposes.

A hashtag is a way of categorising your post. When you add the # symbol in front of a word it becomes a link that people can click on to find other posts with the same hashtag. You might hashtag one or two key words in your post. Those words can be part of a sentence, or just added to the end of the post. For example:

Looking forward to having #ItalianFood at my favourite restaurant in #Woolwich tonight #FoodGloriousFood

A hashtag can be more than one word, but it mustn’t include spaces or symbols (numbers are fine). Anyone who sees this tweet and wants to find more tweets about Woolwich or Italian food can click on the hashtags. If someone searches for either of those hashtags on Twitter, the tweet will come up in the results.

You might want a unique hashtag for a campaign or event. Something that no one else has used before so that tweets using that hashtag are only relevant to your campaign/event.

You can use hashtags on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as Twitter.

An @mention is a way of drawing someone’s attention to your tweet, or crediting someone. If you use an @mention you’re adding an account’s username to your tweet and the account you’ve mentioned will get a notification about your tweet. People will also be able to click on the @mention to see that account’s profile. For example, I could add an @mention to my tweet above:

Looking forward to having #ItalianFood at my favourite restaurant @ConGustoTweets in #Woolwich tonight #FoodGloriousFood

When you’re choosing a username, bear in mind how it will look as part of an @mention. For example, if I were to tweet:

Who’s up for coming to @ConGustoTweets in #Woolwich tonight?

Would people who hadn’t heard of Con Gusto restaurant know what I was talking about? I would need to add context with hashtags:

Who’s up for coming to @ConGustoTweets in #Woolwich tonight? #food #restaurant #hungry

You can tag accounts in a similar way on Facebook. You start by typing @ followed by the person’s name or the page username. You can then choose the account you want to tag from the drop-down list that appears.

A final note on hashtags: If you’re joining two words together it’s a good idea to use capital letters for each word. This not only makes it easier to read, it also means screen-reading software can read the hashtag.


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