Why use #inaug09, or any other hashtag?

If you are a Twitter newbie trying to experience Inauguration Day within the microblogosphere, you’re probably wondering why so many tweets are littered with #inaug09 and #inauguration.

The answer is simple: Hashtags (words preceded by the the hash symbol) are turned into links by many programs and sites used to follow and read tweets.

For example, if a chunk of that first paragraph was a tweet, many Twitter users would see it this way:

ksablan you’re probably wondering why so many tweets are littered with #inaug09 and #inauguration

Here are a couple of tools to help you to follow the #inaug09 hashtag and to add that tag to your tweets as you micropost away.

  • Tweet Grid has a 2009 Inauguration Live Tweets page where you can watch three streams of inauguration tweets. You can post a  tweet from the page, and the “#inaug09″ hashtag will automatically be added to your message.
  • Tweetchat will also add a hashtag to your tweets before posting. Tweetchat treats hashtags as “roooms.” Go to the inaug09 room (hashtag is optional on this site) to join the conversation.
  • Twibble Mobile lets you create “templates” to store strings of text, like “#inaug09,” that you can quickly insert while tweeting from your mobile device.

After our new president is sworn in, you might wonder how you can start your own hashtag. I suggest reading Amy Gahran’s How to start a Twitter hashtag blog post.

And if you’re wondering how the #inaug09 hashtag was created, here is …

The birth of a hashtag

On the morning of Decemeber 3, 2008, this message was tweeted by @acarvin:

Tweet from @acarvin

Which led to this conversation:

That was all!

On the last day of the year, an NPR blog post by Andy Carvin urged people to include the #inaug09 and #dctrip09 tags whenever using social tools to post content related to the inauguration. That blog post was followed by a requisite tweet, of course. And the rest is becoming history.

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