To Hashtag or Not to Hashtag


Not sure if this is right category or not, but it’s Search API related.

“Twitter’s search is optimized to serve relevant tweets to end-users in response to direct, non-recurring queries such as #hashtags, URLs, domains, and keywords. The Search API (which also powers Twitter’s search widget) is an interface to this search engine. Our search service is not meant to be an exhaustive archive of public tweets and not all tweets are indexed or returned. Some results are refined to better combat spam and increase relevance. Due to capacity constraints, the index currently only covers about a week’s worth of tweets.”

Got it. But, I’ve noticed that if a user searches a term with a hashtag (i.e. #breastcancer), they may get results with the term breast cancer or #breastcancer in the tweet body. The same goes for searching terms without a hashtag (i.e. breast cancer); you will get results for breast cancer and #breastcancer. But it’s a mixed bag. The results for a keyword searched with and without a hashtag before it are different… even though they include results different from what was actually searched (i.e. results contain breast cancer when you searched #breastcancer).

The reason I care about any of this is I’m trying to figure out best practices for hashtagging. I’ve always been of the school of thought that if you mention a word in your tweet, you don’t hashtag it because it should show up in both sets of results. You only hashtag words at the end that weren’t already mentioned in the copy but are relevant.

For example: More young women getting mammograms. #breastcancer
or: What are the symptoms of breast cancer? #womenshealth

Thoughts? What’s the point of hashtagging a keyword that’s already in the tweet’s body copy if it’s going to show up whether someone searches for it with or without the hashtag?