What the $%#^ Is a Hashtag?

August 11, 2016 |   2 minute read

What the $%#^ Is a Hashtag?

Hashtags. You’ve heard the term, you’ve heard people use it in conversation (you may have even seen Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake make fun of them).

All the while, you’re locked in your economic development office wondering: what happened? And too scared to admit you really don’t know what a hashtag actually is. No sweat: this post is for you (and no one ever has to know you read it)!

In their simplest form, hashtags are a search function. What you used to call a “Number sign” (#) became a piece of code online. Yes, Twitter started it, but you can get started with hashtags on your Facebook business page, Twitter, LinkedIn, or wherever works best for you!

What happens when you insert a Hashtag (#, Number sign) into Twitter?

It automatically turns that “hashtag+phrase” you typed into a link. If you click that link, all the other posts that used the same “hashtag+phrase” in a tweets will appear for you.

How do you make a hashtag?

The purpose of hashtags is to allow people to be able to read all the Tweets with the same hashtag in it. This started because people were talking about the same topic (e.g. #GoSens). This hashtag feature meant if you looked at a search feed of that hashtag results (e.g. search #GoSens), you’d see all the people Tweeting a comment regarding #GoSens (it could be authentic Sens fans talking about the game, or Leafs fans high-jacking the conversation to interject something rude).

After attending a conference, you could find and follow all the people who were discussing the conference online using hashtags. By typing the conference’s designated hashtag into the search bar, e.g. #OEMC2016, the search engine will bring up everyone who has tweeted about that conference.

Conferences usually designate a hashtag - kind of like their own personal radio station.

Can I just make up a hashtag?

That was the original intention of hashtags: create a hashtag, and as that hashtag rises in popularity, more people are connected to the same conversation. Hashtags that are popular are identified as “Trending.” And you can jump into these conversations just by adding that hashtag to your tweet at anytime.

If you’re new to Twitter, generally you are participating in other people’s hashtags rather than making new hashtags yourself.

However, for you trendsetters out there (and people who just think it’s funny) you can make your own hashtag at any time, simply by putting a hashtag symbol in front of a word.

The moment you hit the space bar, the hashtag code ends.

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