Hashtag Mania

hashtag mania

I have to admit I am a bit perplexed by the overuse of hashtags.  If you are perplexed by what a hashtag is, it is the use of the symbol “#’ prior to a  word or phrase (no spaces between words) to label it on a social media site. You can then search for that hashtag or click on the hashtag in a post to see other posts using that hashtag.  Most social media sites now support hashtags – first popular on Twitter but now Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube, Google+, and others support the use of hashtags.  So that sounds pretty handy.  For instance on Facebook , you can post a picture of your adorable cat and comment on it by adding “look at my cute #cat”.    Then if someone searches for #cat or clicks on #cat in anyone’s post, your post will be included in the search results (if your post is public, otherwise  Facebook shares according to your share settings). I’ll admit there are some pretty cute kitty photos out there.  But if hundreds or thousands of people are also posting with #cat it makes me wonder who will actually see your post?

People are #ing their hearts out.  For what reason?   Perhaps to be heard and be counted and be a part of the collective conversation of social media, or to help make and be a part of a trending hashtag?  A trending hashtag would be one that is the most popular at the moment, what people are “talking” about.  You will often hear the phrase on news shows,  “what’s trending now”.

Business has capitalized upon this concept to create “buzz” about their products.  There are even companies that track hashtags which you can pay to see how well your hashtag is doing .  You can create a hashtag simply by inventing a clever name and using it.

On a smaller scale I understand hashtags can be helpful for events.  A hashtag can create a space where people can connect on the same topic.  There can also be fun and creativity associated with hashtags.  For example Instagram has a Weekend Hashtag Project where you can submit photos  on a weekly topic with a specific hashtag, with the hopes of your photo being chosen to be featured on Instagram’s blog.  You’ll find extremely clever photos there.  Many companies offer contests where using a specific hashtag becomes your contest entry.

And of course for a major event or crisis a hashtag can be a good way to get immediate feedback from people as long as their posts are intelligible and not every word is a hashtag.

In case you were wondering  yes, you’ll find  #hashtagmania posts on Twitter as well as Facebook – people will make up any word they can think of and tag it!   So much for trying to be original (my original title for this post was Hashtag Smashtag and sure enough #smashtag is out there too).

So, happy hashtagging to all those  hashtaggers out there.  As for me, #notalifechanger but #goodtoknow.

 

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