If you’re new to Twitter, you may not have a full understanding of the popular social network and all of its features. You may go about your use of Twitter simply by creating tweets that adhere to the less-than-140-characters rule, but there are aspects of Twitter that you need to use in order to be successful. One of the most important tools to make sure that you’re using on Twitter are hashtags.

twitter hashtagsHashtags are those words or phrases that you see in a tweet that follow the pound symbol. These little blurbs actually have an important role to play in Twitter and are meant to do much, much more than confuse you. The following are four benefits of using hashtags in your tweets.

1. Make tweets easy to find.

Using hashtags puts your tweets in certain categories. If your customers are interested in tweets that have something to do with a certain topic, and if you use these hashtags in your tweets, your customers will be able to see your tweets when they enter that hashtag into the Twitter search field. Doing this will generate a thread of all tweets that contain that hashtag, and anyone—whether they follow you or not—will be able to see your tweet.

2. Learn what others are saying about the topic.

You can use hashtags to see what others have to say about the certain topics. For example, if your company is in the social media industry, you can perform a search for hashtags such as #socialmedia, #facebook, etc. to see what people are currently talking about. This allows you to learn new information, gain insight from others and join conversations about topics that you’re an expert in.

3. Categorize your own tweets.

You have the power to create your own hashtag. If you have an upcoming event, create a hashtag that promotes it. This way, you can start including it in your tweets, and if your tweets are seen by a large enough group of people, your hashtag will start to pick up and people will start to use it to have discussions about that topic through Twitter.

4. Hashtags provide instant links to the trending topic.

When you use hashtags in your tweets, the hashtag becomes a link that will lead your followers to more tweets regarding that topic. Using hashtags allows your followers to easily find more information on the topics that you’re discussing by simply clicking on the hashtag, and providing your followers with more information is a great way to use Twitter to build relationships.

When you use hashtags in your tweets, you open yourself up to a wider audience and categorize your tweets so that they are easier to locate. As a general rule of thumb, make sure that your tweets are relevant to your posts and that you try not to exceed more than three hashtags per tweet. It’s also more beneficial if you include the hashtags throughout the tweet instead of listing them all at the end. If you use irrelevant tags, use too many tags or add them all at the end, most Twitter users will see your post and consider it spam, which will deter your tweeting efforts altogether.