When I ask someone "Do you have a Twitter?" and they respond with "I have Facebook and that's good enough" or "I have facebook, I don't need Twitter" or "Twitter serves no purpose, why would you want to sit around all day and just tell random strangers what you are doing." I say "you poor, poor unfortunate soul...." shake my head and walk away.
No, not really. I go into this long and great explanation of why Twitter is so amazing!
Twitter serves as a bridge for perfect strangers to come together and unite for a specific purpose for a given amount of time. If that connection is great enough, or if both parties are interested, then the two can follow each other for further conversation or contact.
But how do you just meet random strangers with whom you may or may not want to converse in the future? The answer is simple! It's the hashtag! [or as the untrained twitter user will call it: the twitter pound sign]
But how do you use the hashtag [twitter pound sign [#]]?
Let's say you're watching something.... for the sake of this example we will say you're watching Law and Order SVU on NBC. If you're like me; a single lonely male in his apartment with nobody to watch TV shows late at night with, and you don't like to sit on the phone with just one person while watching the same show at the same time, BUT you do enjoy having conversation about the show, then Twitter is going to be PERFECT for you.
So let's say you're watching SVU
(sorry for the crappy video)
At this point, someone has been shot, and we just didn't see it coming. That's just what Law and Order SVU does. They build us up, and then tear us down with these kinds of scenes. With Twitter at your side [and for watching TV I recommend using computer Twitter vs Phone twitter] you can express your feelings on the show and use the hashtag [pound sign #] to 'tag' your tweet to the subject that others are tweeting about.
In this case, people who tweet about Law and Order SVU use "#SVU" instead of typing out "#LawAndOrderSVU" every they tweet. It's just quicker and easier, and trust me, once you get into Twitter this way, you're going to want things to be quick and easy.
I don't know what this episode was about, so let's just make it up. I could tweet:
"That man had no right to shoot that guy! I can't believe he just killed the guy! #SVU"
Now everyone who knows to follow the Law and Order SVU conversation via twitter by using the #SVU hashtag is going to see your tweet and respond accordingly.
Someone might say:
"Dummy, have you not been watching the show!? The other guy drove that guy to the point of madness, that's why he shot him #SVU"
and thus the conversation has begun.
You can keep up with the conversation by opening a new tab on your Google Chrome [or other internet browser] and going to http://search.twitter.com [twitter search] and searching for "#SVU"...
Twitter will then fetch you all of the tweets of people who are putting "#SVU" on their tweets... and guess what? They're more than likely going to be watching the show with you. Now, mind you this is only when the show is actually airing. You can't do this with a rerun unless someone is watching the same rerun on the same channel.
People have done this for American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars and a whole bunch of other shows. The key to staying in the conversation is finding out what the actual hashtag is. During a lot of shows, you might see what the official hashtag is in the bottom corner of the screen or the host might tell you verbally, but once you have it, you can chat with the rest of the world about the TV show you're watching. You are not alone!
The best part about this? Once the show is over, that's it. No awkward sticking around. No excuses as to why you have to suddenly get up and leave. You've had a good conversation for the past half hour to hour with a few thousand people that have the same interest as you do, and now it's time to move on with life.
And that's only one example of how the hashtag/ pound sign can be used. I love going on a twitter search for #Subtweet [subtweets] to see all of the pettiness that gets passed around twitter. Of course, I would never partake in such foolishness, but I do enjoy watching the drama unfold.
In short, the hashtag is a tweet marker, letting others know what you are talking about and giving them the ability to join a conversation with a complete stranger with no obligation.