Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram uses that punctuation mark # that used to mean “pound” – how much something weighs – back in the day. What’s all the fuss?
A hashtag # is a way to delineate a keyword for other social media users to organize discussions around a specific topic or event. It allows the user to quickly filter tweets, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts to be able to specifically follow an event, content or topic. Hashtags set up an instant community and while these communities are often short lived; many become ongoing conversations, real-time events, or even an entire movement. And in a social media world where you are trying to say as much as possible with as little as possible (think Twitter’s 140 character limit), hashtags are an easy way to abbreviate a thought without using too many characters.
Hashtags originated with Twitter, forming communities and keeping the conversation going on a particular topic. It is a great way to connect with individuals who have the same #interests or #business focus as you. For instance, with my involvement in public education as a school board member, following and using the hashtag #education has proven helpful in following current educational trends and connecting with other like-minded education professionals.
Another favorite way to use hashtags on Twitter is to follow real time a particular event or movement. Recently, I joined in on a discussion with #Blogust: a blogger movement in the month of August that raises awareness and money for childhood vaccinations in third world countries. When this year’s event kicked off on August 1st, tweeters all around the globe started using the hashtag #Blogust to discuss the importance of the event and to engage others in the conversation.
Because hashtags became so popular on Twitter, Facebook began a drive to include hashtags in posts. It was hoped that using hashtags on Facebook would bring about the same results in starting a chain of conversations as with Twitter, but personally, I don’t think it is used or appreciated the same.
Instagram uses hashtags extensively to describe and share photographs. And while one picture can have many hashtags, I find these hashtags are more about how creative you can get in in creating a hashtag rather than forming or following a particular conversation or event.
In the end, hashtags are a great way to start or join in on conversations, meet new people in the social media world, and get involved.
Do you follow any #hashtags?
What is the most creative #hashtag you’ve seen?