All About Twitter Hashtags

After writing my Teacher Challenge guest post on using Twitter to build your PLN, I was asked by a number of people about hashtags.

I know when I first started using Twitter, it took me a little while to get my head around what the # symbol meant. This is a handy feature of Twitter that is worth learning about.

What is a hashtag?

The # symbol + a word/acronym in a tweet is called a hashtag. It is used to categorise a tweet into a topic or keyword. Hashtags are not created by Twitter but by Twitter users.


Why use hashtags?

There are so many tweets flying around at any one time that they can get lost in the crowd.

If you click on a hashtagged word in any tweet, you can find a list of other tweets with that hashtag. Whether or not you’re friends with someone, you can find their hashtagged tweet (as long as their profile is public). If you add a hashtag to a tweet, your tweet can potentially reach a larger audience.

Hashtags can help you connect with people who have similar interests. For example, you might be doing the Daily 5 literacy program in your classroom but you might not know any other people on Twitter who are also using that program. You could go to the Twitter website and put #daily5 into the search box to find a list of tweets from people tweeting about this subject.

daily5 hashtag

If you use a desktop application like TweetDeck, you can add a column with all the tweets on #daily5 so you don’t miss anything.

In TweetDeck just click on the + sign at the top of your screen and then put #daily5 (or your favourite hashtag) into the search box. Alternatively, you can click on a hashtag in any tweet in TweetDeck and a column with all the tweets with that hashtag will be added.

Hashtag etiquette

Most Twitter guides suggest one, two or three hashtags is a good amount to use. Any more than three hashtags can take away from the content of your tweet.

Where do you put hashtags?

Hashtags can replace a word in a tweet or be tacked on to the end of a tweet. Sometimes people put a hashtag at the start of their tweet to preface their message with the subject.

where to put the hashtag

Who makes up hashtags?

Hashtags are community driven. You can create any hashtag you like as long as members of your community or professional learning network (PLN) know about it and agree to use that hashtag.

To avoid using a hashtag that is already being used, it is advisable to search for that hashtag first. Things can get confusing if your hashtag is being used by another group! is a useful website to find out about hashtags being used.

The lighter side of hashtags

More and more people seem to use one-off random hashtags to add a humourous element to their tweet. You definitely don’t want to overdo this but they can add a little fun to your interactions with others.

hashtag humour

Conference backchannelling

Most conferences these days have a hashtag. This will generally be advertised prior to the event and allows people to connect their tweets about the conference before, during and after the event.

A hashtag can be used for a conference backchannel. Backchannelling allows conference participants to engage in an online discussion about what they are seeing, hearing and learning. It allows passive audience members to become active. Sometimes, people who can’t make a conference will also get involved in a backchannel by following the hashtag.

If you’re on Twitter you might have seen many tweets flying around with the #ISTE11 hashtag recently. This hashtag allowed participants at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia to connect while also giving a running commentary to non-participants.

hashtag iste

Tweet chats

Usually, conversations on Twitter are interspersed with gaps of time while people come online and offline. Some people plan times when everyone is online to engage in a live chat about a certain topic. These are often called “tweet chats” and are defined with a hashtag.

One of the most well known tweet chats in the ed tech world is #edchat. Each week there is a different topic and up to 2000 people from around the world get together and have a focussed conversation.

You can use a client like TweetChat to converse in real time or you can simply add a column with the hashtag search to TweetDeck or whatever Twitter application you prefer.

Anyone can organise their own live tweet chat. Just come up with a hashtag, a time and a topic, and get your PLN on board!

Archiving conversations

If you want to keep an archive of hashtagged conversations from a conference or tweet chats, there are some websites that make it easy to do this. Try Keepstream or Twapper Keeper.

Trending topics

You may be aware that Twitter is often the first place to break news as it happens. Twitter has an algorithm to work out which topics or hashtags are the hottest topics or trends right now.

If you go to the Twitter homepage, you can see a list of trending topics or trends. There might be hashtags there that you want to follow! These aren’t all hashtags but if you click on any of the trends, it will take you to search results of tweets about the topic.

These trends can change by the minute.

hashtag trends

Some education hashtags to try

Now you know all about hashtags, why not try adding some to your tweets?

#vicpln – for teachers in Victoria, Australia

#Ultranet – discussion about the online portal for teachers in Victoria, Australia

#edtech – anyone interested in educational technology

#comments4kids – a way for students and teachers to find blogs to comment on and to get their own posts commented on (find more here).

#elearning – anyone interested in elearning

#elemchat – this is a live chat for elementary (primary) teachers but is also used for general discussions (find out more here).

#RSCON3 – this is the hashtag for the upcoming online PD that I discussed in this post.

Find more popular education hashtags here.

What hashtags do you use?

Do you have any other tips about using hashtags?

50 thoughts on “All About Twitter Hashtags

  1. Thanks so much for this. I have been using Twitter for a couple of months now, and am coming to terms with the hashtag. This blog post confirms that I am on the right track. Once again thanks for the info!

  2. Excellent reference – look forward to helping spread it around. Some other good ed hashtags in this post by my friend Bill Ferriter:

    And I’d like to share one too – a group blog featuring an international team of teacher writers, including Australia’s Jenny Luca: #vflr

    • @ John,

      Thanks so much for sharing! I’m sure that information will be valuable, not only to me, but to all the other readers!


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  4. Dear Kathleen,
    What an excellent, easy to follow description you wrote…people will love it. I’m including it in my grad school class so hopefully you’ll be seeing some of my students read thru it.
    The hashtag I love, considering I’m a science teacher this won’t be surprising, is #scichat. It’s on Tuesday nights in the US. Lots of science teachers gather (usually about 50ish I’d say) to talk classroom science stuff. They usually take a poll the week before to see what people want to talk about….you can listen in even if you don’t know anything about the topic. Sometimes they transition off the topic if there’s time, too.

    So that’s my suggestion and thanks for posting this.


    PS I love Twapper Keeper because when I fall behind I’d never catch up without this option.

    • @ Marsha,

      Thanks so much for your feedback.

      I haven’t used Twapper Keeper myself but I’m glad to hear that you find it useful. I don’t usually like to recommend things I haven’t tried! Haha.

      I’m sure #scichat will be useful to many readers so thanks very much for sharing!


  5. Kathleen
    I got back to the post now that my class is silent reading! Are there any hastags for educational chats that you know of that suit Australia or NZ time zones?

  6. Dear Kathleen,
    I am new to Twitter and creating a PLN but that is how I happened to come across your website and blog. I’m so glad that I have! I am a principal of an intermediate school (grades 3-5 and now added grade 6) in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York state. I just wanted to thank you for your recent postings. They are so clearly written and extremely practical! Our teachers and students are on summer break right now but I can’t wait to share everything I’m learning with them come September – or sooner! Thanks again – I’m looking forward to everything and anything you have to share!
    Janice Driscoll

    • @ Janice,

      This comment just made my morning! Thank you so much for all your kind words. It is just wonderful to hear the posts I type up in my lounge room actually have an impact on people!

      I hope you’re enjoying your summer and I look forward to hearing from you again!


    • @ Theresa,

      I kind of change but I often use #edtech and #vicpln. I also use #comments4kids to support my students. Have a look at what your Twitter friends are using and that might give you some more ideas :)


  7. This was exactly what I was looking for. It was simply and thoroughly explained. I have now added columns to my Tweetdeck and will start checking this.


  8. Kathleen, this is a helpful post. I learned some new things about using hashtags. Besides some of the hashtags you and others mentioned above, I also use #sschat (social studies chat) and #historyteacher. A new one I discovered this summer is #eltpics, where educators share photos on various topics for educational use in a Flickr group. Very beautiful photography and all shared with a CC license. Here is a post I wrote about it if anyone is interested in learning more about #eltpics:

    • @ Denise,

      I didn’t know about the #eltpics hashtag. Thanks so much for sharing it. That sounds very useful! I look enjoyed reading your post.


  9. Thank you to everyone else who has taken the time to comment on this post. Your feedback and kind words always make my day! :lol:


  10. Hello Kathleen
    Thanks for saying eeverything so clearly about hashtags. AS an EFL teacher in Mexico I have seen used: #EFL, #ESL, #ELLchat, #ELT and #ELTchat.

    There are so many that I have found I just have to try them all and see which suits my purposes.

    I love the #ellchats on Tuesday evenings. I haven’t been able to jump in on a disucssion yet (still finding my voice) but am learning so much.


    • @ Ellen, this is great! Thanks for sharing the hashtags. Go on and jump into that #ellchats – I’m sure you’ll find everyone is friendly and welcoming! ;)

  11. Hi Kathleen,
    Great tips about hashtags!

    One thing I like to do at conferences or inservices when teachers are getting together is use so that people can have a look at what they’ve been tweeting during their time together. It makes a nice visual projected on a screen during break times and it gives those folks who may not be on twitter an idea of the kinds of discussions/learning that goes on there.


    • @ Brenda, thanks for sharing that link! It looks really useful. I remember I have bookmarked it before but you know how you need a reminder of things sometimes? Thanks again!


  12. Thanks for the great discussion of hashtags. Even though I’ve been on Twitter for awhile, I still found the discussion helpful. I use the #temt hashtag, which stands for Twitter Exercise Motivation Team with a group of others who use it to share progress and challenges with healthy habits re: exercise. Join us!

  13. Wow! I’m famous! I just started following you because I am interested in adding more tech to my classroom. I have been using Twitter for a short time and I have found that the hashtags help “weed” through all of the people I follow. Sometimes I want to focus on teaching and education so I follow “teachchat, #daily5, or #edchat. I also follow #vegetarian and #vegan. I also search different subjects with a # just to see what comes up. Like #harrypotter ;-)

  14. Well written Kathleen – very clear and understandable. Additionally it is great to see an Aussie educator (and what’s even better, a fellow Victorian one) post about Twitter. Well done – and thank you.

  15. @ Angie, Joan, Louise, Tony and Julia,

    A massive thank you to you all for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your support!

    Kathleen :lol:

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  28. Kathleen, just wanted to say that a year after finding this post, I still have not come across another resource that explains hashtags as thoroughly as you did here. It helps me so much when I teach people about Twitter. Thank you for the time you took to put this together!

    • Hi Sandy,

      That’s so kind of you to take the time to comment to let me know that my hashtag post has been useful. I’m so glad to hear it as I know when I first started using Twitter I was very confused by hashtags!

      Thanks again,

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  30. Thanks so much for this handy discussion. I am using this to introduce hashtags and twitter to my students in the Social Media Club tomorrow. Really appreciate the clear writing and examples.

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