The Hashtag (#) is a symbol usually used for numbers and currency, but in a social media context it has a different meaning.
Its initial use has been developed through Twitter in 2007 by Chris Messina with the purpose to separate and define in a more specific way the tweets of the users, this means that suddenly your tweets are linked with others across the world who share your topic thought. At the beginning used in tweets regarding the bushfires in California (2007) and then officialised in 2009 turning them into links to search other tagged tweets and comments.
Tim Highfield (2016: 91) explains that ‘hashtags are critical element of online communication, acting to centralize important information. A common marker allows social media users to find relevant details among the wider coverage of the unfolding events, the hashtag acting as an unstructured and automated aggregator of information (although at times swamped by personal responses from distant observers rather than critical updates)’.
So, hashtags are helpful for people to find what they are looking for simply based on their own input. They give a summary of our idea, substituting a word of connotation for a paragraph of argument.
Now a day, hashtags became a proper and real news feed sorting mechanism through all different platforms of social networks.
We have Twitter, where your message has to be summarised within the maximum number of characters and contains hashtag to define the topic, which could be part of the trend list of the most used and famous ones.
We have Instagram, where hashtags are used to describe the picture posted or just to gain as much followers as possible ( #picoftheday #bestoftheday #follow4follow #like4like ).
We have also Facebook who joined and created its own ‘ hashtag folder’.
And, if you want to start a brand new hashtag, because of an idea you want to share or a business you want to start you can do so on Hashtags.org (https://www.hashtags.org/ ). On this website you can check if it exists already, if there are some correlated and its popularity on a daily based updating.
Hashtags have become so used and kind of essential for people’s daily use on social networks and we use them to tell very short stories, to define moments we decide to share among the social networks; it could be a concert, or a social network challenge, or a song, or a memory, or a TV show or series, or an event, or a holiday, or a university course group, etc… it could literally be anything we choose. And this is probably the most exciting thing about the use of hashtags: that we can create them. There is no need of requirements, or permission; we can be creative and play with them while sharing with the social network world. Hashtags create various communities across the internet, which makes people come together to a common idea where they can debate and express themselves, isn’t it?
P.S: Feel free to share your opinion, #hashtagsharing