Now some of us might be old enough to remember when the hashtag was known primarily as the international symbol for number. If you were to ask a teenager today, they would almost certainly know of hashtags only in relation to Twitter and other social media.
So what are hashtags actually used for? They link information, opinions and other posts on the same topic together. So when we hear of something ‘trending’ in the media, it often has its own hashtag. For instance, you might remember the #nomakeupselfie used to raise awareness for cancer. If I wanted to open a discussion on what's trending at the moment, I might include #whatstrending in my Tweet.
Hashtags are used in all kinds of discussions online. They are used to start conversations, create unity and spread awareness. Companies use them in marketing campaigns. Individuals use them in their daily updates - #middleclassproblems is a prime example of this. They are used in politics and social discussion. If you are interested in a certain topic, hashtags make terms more searchable, making it fast and simple to get information.
The use of the hashtag in an online discussion brings people together who might otherwise not connect. It allows conversations to take place between different nationalities, cultures, ages, religions and backgrounds. Who would think that a 20 year old philosophy student from London might have something in common with a 40 year old businessman in Japan? Hashtags open up the avenue for discussion, with people other than those you would automatically be drawn to.
Hashtags are great news for businesses. A company can create a hashtag and look on as it is spread and discussed amongst consumers, boosting brand awareness and engaging potential customers. And this can happen across almost any social media platform, not just Twitter, as is often thought. Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr are just some examples! So take a look at the infographic below and have a think about what hashtags could do for your business!
(Click to enlarge infographic)
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