Crash course in hashtags

Following people used to require sneaky initiative and a stealth like presence. Today however, social media sites, like Twitter, make following people not only socially acceptable but a great way to connect with others who have the same interests and goals.

Today’s post is dedicated to making the most of your Twitter account, in terms of Assistive Technology. Before we get too carried away with the jargon and inner workings of this extremely popular networking platform, let’s start with the basics.


What is a hashtag?

A hashtag

Courtesy of Google Images

is a word or phrase prefixed with the symbol #. For example, #INDATA is my favorite resource for learning about #assistivetechnology. Aside from being a shortcut for “pound,” the hashtag is becoming synonymous with quick searches and short messages. A person can search for hashtagged word or phrase of their choice, via Twitter, and this tagged word or phrase will appear in the search engine results.

Twitter limits its user to only 140 characters in a message, a.k.a. Limited space to convey what could be a complex thought or message. Hashtags are useful because they help to simplify and clarify the message by focusing on a main idea, or word, that sums up what the “tweet” actually means.

How do you use a hashtag?

The formatting of a hashtag is simple, it is just the symbol (#) + the word. However, it is all in how you use the hashtag. According to our in house social media guru, Sara Croft, in order to be used effectively, hashtags should come at the end of the message or in the middle of the message. Hashtags should be used with purpose and somehow ignite some call to action to notice key words and ideas. This will help in the search process.

When searching for specific tweets, type in the “hashtagged” word in the search box of Twitter and every user that put hashtags around the same word will show up. By doing this, you can read other articles and information about only what interests you.

Here are some visuals to help you out:

Good: A book like you – new additions to our #Autism Family Resource Library @ESCAutism
(See how the hashtag is in the middle of the sentence? This is an example of highlighting a key word.)

Good: The @INDATAProject is using social media to connect people from across the world #assistivetech
(See how this one combines INDATA’s Twitter handle,name along with hashtags of the main idea of the message at the end of the sentence? By placing a hashtag on disability and assistive tech, users will be able to search for areas relating to these topics more easily.)

Not so good: #Growingup with cerebral palsy.
(What should have hashtags around it is “cerebral palsy”, “growing up” will not yield effective search results.)

Popular AT Hashtags

The following is a list of commonly used hashtags:

#atpeeps-group discussing AT and new developments
#a11y-assistive technology related websites, soft/hardware devleopment, etc.
#spedtech – special education technology
#AXS/#axs/AxS – general search term for accessibility services, generic and yields a variety of results
#mobility – great for those with mobility impairments
#ageinplace – good for the senior citizen community
#iOS – this is for the operating system in general, with many AT users using Mac and iOS, this may be a helpful search
#autism – general search item, yields results for both technology and AT for those on the spectrum
#AAC – augmentative and assistive communication
#inclusion – yields results for those who have disabilities, downs, etc.

The tricky part about hashtags is that they change all the time, they tend to remain as popular as the crowd deems them. If you know what you are specifically searching for, try typing that into the search bar as well. For example, #autism, #cerebralpalsy or #blind.

Once you’re a pro…

There are several platforms that help to organize and collate tweets., Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are all websites that help to collect and organize your tweets. compiles only tweets that interest you by going through your account to see what you’re searching and tweeting about, once it has this information it creates a newspaper that updates itself every 24 hours.

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck allow you to schedule tweets, access analytics about your tweets, monitor the number of times your tweet was mentioned, allow you to follow others in real time and arrange your feeds.

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