Get Your #Hashtag On!

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One of the most complex features of Twitter for new users to understand is the hashtag, a topic with a hash symbol (“#”) at the start to identify it. Twitter hashtags like #NurseTechMonday or #NurseBlogLove help spread information on Twitter while also helping to organize it.

The hashtag is a favorite tool of conferences and event organizers, but it’s also a way for Twitter users to organize themselves.  Think of hashtags as keywords, which are easily browse-able and searchable.

The hashtag’s big break was in 2007….originally coined by Chris Messina adding tags to where he was tweeting from and what it was about…..but it wasn’t until the San Diego wildfires when hashtags really took off.

Check out the infographic below from Offerpop for a timeline which shows how this common sign turned into a global icon.



Where Do I Find Healthcare Hashtags?

Before you start using hashtags in your tweets,  It can be helpful to do a little research first, to find out if the subject you’re tweeting already has an established hashtag.

Lucky for us, we have our friends at Symplur who built The Healthcare Hashtag Project.  This is quite literally the single most important tool I use to locate healthcare topic hashtags, conferences and chats.

The blog is full of practical information and analysis of trends in healthcare social media. Check out this post and channel your inner epidemiologist:  The Life Cycle of Ebola on Twitter.

Conference transcripts are great places to find current evidence based resources AND connect with key influencers in your specialty.  Here’s a peek at a little data and list of key influencers from #onscongress (Oncology Nursing Society) this year!

ons congress analytics 11.2015


How Do I Use Hashtags?

Using a hashtag in a social post is as simple as adding the ‘#’ sign before a single word or phrase without spaces or punctuation (numbers are okay).

Here are 3 quick tips for beginners

  • Don’t string #toomanywordstogether with a single hashtag.
  • Avoid #spamming #with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a #single #tweet.
  • Use hashtags only on tweets relevant to the topic.

Ready to flaunt your new #healthcare #hashtag wisdom?

Let’s Do This!

If you don’t already have a Twitter account, mosey on over to my blog post, Teach a Nurse to Tweet,  which will get you started in less than 30 minutes!

Have a tip to share on hashtags or a unique way you use them? Be sure to share in the comments!

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Carol Bush

Partner | Content Strategist at Healthcare Marketing Network
I am a co-founder of the Healthcare Marketing Network, a content creation company that specializes in connecting Healthcare Writers with Healthcare Businesses looking for creative & factual articles and blog posts. I write and speak about healthcare social media & integrating digital skills in nursing practice.

Latest posts by Carol Bush (see all)


  1. The Social Nurse | Teach A Nurse To Tweet on December 24, 2015 at 9:20 am

    […] Marrvy factoid: Did you know hashtags were created by the Twitter community as a method to categorize topics? You can read more about healthcare hashtags via this informative post from our friends @Symplur.  Check out a marrvy infographic about the history of hashtags in my post, “Get Your Hashtag On!”. […]

  2. […] Get Your Hashtag On! […]

  3. Elizabeth Scala on January 30, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    LOVE how you share the history of hashtags with us, Carol. And the data on using them versus not. This post is so helpful and really practical, thank you. Only thing for me is… when I remember to use them! I will do my best to set the intention to be mindful of hashtag use. Thank you! Sharing.

    • The Social Nurse on January 31, 2016 at 8:34 am

      I am glad you found the post helpful, Elizabeth! With nurses & nursing teams I introduce to social media, learning about hashtags is always a challenge. I am a bit of a history geek, so when I located the hashtag history, I knew I had to share!

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  4. Donna Carol Maheady on February 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Wow….do I have a lot to learn!
    Thanks so much for sharing this helpful information.
    I just took the plunge and requested a hashtag for nurses with disabilities.
    How long does it usually take to hear back from Symplur?

    • Melissa Brown RN on February 1, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Donna, you can go ahead and create that hashtag now. You don’t need to wait for approval. Go for it!

    • The Social Nurse on February 1, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Donna- AWESOME! I am so glad you found it helpful….and so glad to know you took the plunge! My experiences with Symplur when submitting conference hashtags is a pretty quick email reply. Is it for a conference or a chat you are planning on starting? Keep me posted…I’d love to know!

  5. Melissa Brown RN on February 1, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Great article, Carol! Will share widely. Your first article, “Teach a Nurse to Tweet”, was helpful to a bunch of nurses. 🙂

    • The Social Nurse on February 1, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Melissa- I appreciate your feedback & shares! Creating content that people find helpful is GOAL 1 🙂

  6. Sam on August 14, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    This post is so helpful. I am Twitter illiterate but I am learning. 😀 Thank you so much for sharing this information. The healthcare hashtag are so helpful!

    • Carol Bush on August 14, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      So glad to hear it was helpful, Sam! Symplur is REALLY helpful for healthcare hashtags. Plus, I live by the conference and chat calendars to catch all the cool events!

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