For many of you, you know exactly what it means when I throw a pound sign in front of a word or phrase. For others, this must look like complete madness, as if I was trying to do one of those cuss word posts (#*%*) but failed miserably. This ever so popular trend you see where a pound sign is followed by a word or phrase is called a “hashtag.” ie: #dog #cat
What it does: it puts the word or phrase into a group or category, comparable to putting it into a folder with a similar theme/title. This way, if someone wanted to look up dogs, they could click/tap on a “#dog” and every sentence/phrase/photo that has used #dog will appear, showing you a variety of pictures and phrases all pertaining to dogs.
Where it’s used: The most popular sites that use hastags are mostly microblogging websites, like Twitter, Instagram, Tout, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, and Tumblr, among any others. It is NOT used on FaceBook, but because hastagging things has become so trendy, people have carried hashtags onto the site, despite the fact that you cannot click them and they don’t track anything like they do elsewhere.
How it’s helpful: Say I’m on twitter and I want to send out a funny tweet about how I’m horribly single. I would write something like “hey everyone, isn’t it funny that I can’t get a plus one for this wedding I have to go to? #single #horriblysingle”. Because of those hashtags at the end, my tweet has been put into a long list or folder of all the other people that used #single, so I can click it and maybe even find a plus one!
Cool facts about hashtags:
- Chris Messina, in 2007, saw the idea from Internet Relay Chat (where they used hashtags to label groups and topics) and decided to bring it on to Twitter to tag topic of interest on microblogging sites. The first tweet with a hashtag? “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups? As in #barcamp in msg?” By using this hashtag, anyone that wanted to reference the group could use #barcamp and be associated with the group within the touch of a button.
- Hashtags can be started by anyone, anywhere. A good friend of mine, Aubreigh, started a to hashtag #thirtydaysofthanksgiving on all of the pictures she posted on Instagram for the month of November. With every hashtag came a beautiful photo of what she was thankful for that particular day. People started to see the hashtag and like it, and it started to trend (meaning it became a highly trafficked hashtag during that time). Something that Aubreigh had done in the comfort of her own hand had quickly expanded to her friends, her friend’s friends, and then out into the world of Instagram. I just checked it now, and there are 20,093 pictures hashtagged with #thirtydaysofthanksgiving. Because I clicked on this hashtag, I can scroll through and see what 20,000 people were thankful for this past November.
- There are A LOT of hashtags that will never ever trend. Ones that I have created, for example: #PleaseTurnBackAround for a man at the gym who was walking backwards on the treadmill and staring at me and #NotLiterallyRunningEW in reference to my reluctance to go running. Those will never be trending hashtags, I can assure you that.
Things you should know: No more using hashtags on FaceBook: they don’t work and are just weird (although I have used them before myself, but I have washed myself clean of those activities). Don’t put a million hashtags on things in a serious manner to get more people to look at your tweets/pictures: never should #livelaughlove and #puppy #peep #poo #po #p be used together.