This is probably the #1 (pardon the pun) question I get about Twitter.

In Twitter speak, the # (pound symbol) is a “hashtag”. The idea is to precede a key word that you want associated with your tweet with a # sign so that people can follow and keep track of concepts, topics, conferences, events etc. using the “hashtag”.

Here are some examples:

#mesh is the hashtag for the popular Toronto-based social media conference. Anyone attending this conference that wants to indicate that their tweet is referring to the conference adds this hashtag to their tweet.

#tweetstock8 this is an example where a hashtag is not only used to identify a specific event, but also which particular event in a series. This hashtag represents the 8th in the series of Tweetstock events.

#twitter denotes a discussion about the actual service called Twitter

#socialmedia is more of a general catch all topic about social media

#marketing is a general catch all topic for marketing discussion whereas #inboundmarketing denotes a specific style or practice of marketing.

#epic means something is really great.

#winning is overused worn out Charlie Sheen drivel.

#fail means something is wrong, dumb or you disagree as in “Windows just crashed on me again #fail”

#BRANTastic or #KWawesome are great examples of localized “thumbs’s up” style hashtags that help build community spirit.

Most importantly, hashtags are important listening tools. They make it easier to follow conversations, topics of interest and trends on Twitter. Learning to use them properly and to your advantage will greatly increase your effective use of Twitter.

Find the search box on Twitter, pick anything you might be interested in and add a # in front of it. I almost guarantee you will find a discussion taking place right now on every conceivable topic that you may be interested in. This is by far the most powerful aspect of Twitter, it connects you to the people you should know not just the people you already know.