The difference between a Mention and a Hashtag on Twitter

Twitter is one of the most useful social media marketing tools available today. If you know how to use it correctly, it’s a wonderful outlet for connecting with current and potential customers. One of the most important concepts to learn is the difference between a mention and a hashtag on Twitter.

What is a mention on Twitter?

A mention is any update that contains “@username” anywhere in the body of the Tweet. Following this basic definition, @replies are also technically considered mentions. However, it is important to note that replies are treated slightly differently than other mentions.

If @username is at the very beginning of a tweet, it is considered a reply. This means that the tweet is a direct message to that user and will be placed in their feed. It is a public message and can be seen by anyone on that senders profile page, but it will not appear in the home stream of anyone else. The only exception occurs when someone follows both the sender and the recipient of the reply.


On the other hand, a standard mention occurs when @username is used anywhere but directly at the start of the message. This tweet is immediately added to the home stream of everyone who is following you.

What is a hashtag on Twitter?

Hashtags are used as a way of categorizing tweets. The hashtag symbol, #, is used before a word of phrase to help them appear more easily in Twitter searches. Clicking on any hashtagged word will show all tweets that have been marked with that particular hashtag.

The hashtag on Twitter was the brainchild of Chris Messina. After pitching the idea to the founders of Twitter and being denied, he went directly to the users on Twitter. On August 23, 2007 Chris pitched the idea of using the # to group tweets.

In October 2007, during the San Diego wildfires Chris sent a private message to a journalist covering the fire to use the hashtag #sandiegofire. Thousands of citizens followed suit giving instant updates of fire locations and emergency situations and the hashtag took on a life of its own. By 2008, politicians had begun using their own hashtag #dontgo in an effort to force Congress to remain in session to vote on an energy bill.

Today, users cannot imagine a Twitter without the use of hashtags, but officially Twitter gives no credit to Messina for his innovation. Official policy states the hashtag was created organically by Twitter users.

For more information on mentions, replies, and hashtags, contact us.