They’re everywhere on Twitter and now they’ve migrated to even more mainstream social media by showing up on Facebook- but what exactly is a hashtag?
You may have noticed the trend, though you might not exactly know what it’s about, but hashtagging involves prefixing an important phrase with the symbol #. So a post about Facebook might look something like “Staying connected to friends with #Facebook”. Whilst this might look strange, what hashtags do is provide a way for messages to be grouped. If you look on Twitter for the trending topics, these are posts which have been simultaneously tagged with the same word, because of this hashtags can be an excellent indicator of what is currently making news around the world.
Since the inception of hashtags on social media and microblogging, large corporations have jumped on the bandwagon and encouraged fans and customers to use their official tags. Aside from allowing free advertising and promotion for companies, this has also become a way for dissatisfied customers to voice complaints or make their voices heard.
In the past year, Facebook has also joined in the hashtag trend by allowing them to be used in posts on the site (4 years after Twitter’s 2009 introduction). Preliminary results from Facebook’s introduction of the hashtag have embarrassingly showed that Facebook’s users are paying very little attention to this new feature.