Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They’re like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.
Hashtags were developed as a means to create “groupings” on Twitter, without having to change the basic service. The hash symbol is a convention borrowed primarily from IRC channels, and later from Jaiku’s channels.
hashtags.org provides real-time tracking of Twitter hashtags. Opt-in by following @hashtags to have your hashtags tracked. Similarly, Twemes offers real-time tracking without the necessity of following a specific Twitter account. Also, with their purchase of Summize, Twitter itself now offers some support of hashtags at their search engine: http://search.twitter.com. Other services such as TweetChat, TweetGrid, and Twitterfall are also popular for following hashtags in real-time.
This is great news. There is a lot you can do with a hashtag to get your information out to the masses. When I tweet I like to target specific groups. As a writer and promoter of children’s books my hashtag targets are #teachers #parents #parenting #moms #dads and many more. It depends on which blog I’m promoting and what I’m promoting. Get busy! Check out the links and make your Twitter account work for you.