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Hashtags have revolutionised modern communication, making it more inclusive and more interactive than ever before. But what is a hashtag? And how on earth do they work?
This brief overview of #hashtags will shed some light on the little symbol that has had a big impact on the way we communicate.
What is a hashtag anyway?
A hashtag is used in social media to allow users to easily find posts related to a specific topic, tag their own posts or communicate with other users.
Put simply, hashtags help you search for content, and help others find your online content too.
#funfact: In 2014, the word “hashtag” was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary, although you may want to think twice before using it in a game of Scrabble with Grandma.
What are hashtags used for?
Hashtags are used across most popular social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+. On these platforms, hashtags enable you to:
Search: Hashtags allow you to search for topics and find all related posts about them. For instance, searching #GOTfinale on Twitter will return a list of posts about the final episode of Game of Thrones. Or, if you want to see multitudes of adorable puppies on Instagram, you could search the hashtag #puppiesofinstagram.
Tag: Hashtags make it easier for other social media users to search for and view your posts. For instance, if you’re an artist posting your work on Instagram you might add the hashtags #art #artist #creativity #penandink #landscape #originalartwork and so on.
Participate: Hashtags allow you to join in campaigns, make yourself heard or create a sense of community. Hashtags can be used to run competitions, update people on what’s happening at a festival or seminar, or to keep track of the developments in a news story. They can also be used in serious campaigns like the #illridewithyou campaign which emerged following the Lindt Café siege.
Add commentary/humour: Hashtags can be used to illustrate a point or add humour or context to a post such as: “Tried making soufflé for the first time today #itdidnotgowell #womp #thinkilljuststicktobeansontoast”.
How to hashtag effectively
A hashtag can be anything you want it to be. It simply needs to begin with a # symbol, followed by alphanumeric characters and, very importantly, no spaces. For example, #hashtagsareawesome2017, not #hashtags are awesome 2017.
Exclamation marks, question marks, apostrophes, commas and full stops are all to be avoided.
Hashtags are not case sensitive, so #newcastlensw and #NewcastleNSW will yield the same results.
Hashtags can be placed at the beginning, middle or end of a post. For example:
#adeleconcert Can’t believe I’m finally seeing Adele!
Can’t wait to see Adele tonight! #adeleconcert
On my way to the #adeleconcert in Newcastle, so excited!
The important thing to remember about hashtags is that they are for everyone. Whatever industry you’re in or whatever you’re posting about, they can help you get noticed, share your opinions to a wider audience and even grow your business.