Whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Google Plus, we see hashtags being used in every post from McDonald’s #MinsaLangTo to Smart’s #SmartFreeInternet. Hashtags are so widely used these days that people use them even when simply sharing a status online such as #OOTD and #KapitLang.
But have you ever wondered where it came from? What it’s really for? Is it necessary to use them? And most importantly how to use them properly?
The Origin of Hashtag
Hashtags began on Twitter. Former Google developer Chris Messina proposed the idea of Twitter using the hash symbol to group topics back in 2007. It was initially rejected by Twitter but on the same year, citizen journalists started using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire following Messina’s suggestion to tag tweets about a series of San Diego forest fires with the hash (#). Hashtags took off from there.
The Purpose and Importance of Hashtag
Hashtags are an important part of how we communicate online. Those short links that are followed by the hash sign (#) turn any word that directly follow it into a searchable link. In other words, using hashtags allows you to arrange content and track topic discussion based on the keyword(s) assigned. For instance, if you want to read up posts on social media about The Voice Season 7’s Battle Rounds, all you have to do is search for hashtags #TheVoice and #BattleBegins and to join the conversation online, simply use those hashtags.
Proper Use of Hashtag
Using a hashtag is very simple. All you have to do is put a # sign before the word or phrase without spaces or punctuation marks. However there are a few things to note before sending out a post with a hashtag:
- Only use hashtag on posts relevant to a topic
- Don’t assign so many words in one hashtag
- Don’t use so many hashtags in one post. In other words, don’t over-tag. One to three hashtags is acceptable
- When you post with a hashtag on a public account, anyone can search that hashtag
- Numbers are supported so you can post a status like #Batang90s to your heart’s content
- You cannot control hashtags. It’s the public who controls hashtags. If you post #greatpaintjob, someone can take that and create #greatsmearjob, or worse.
- Make sure your hashtag reads the way you intended it to read. #eatingbass may come back to bite you as #eatingbAss or someone may turn your #lovetodemocracy to #LoveToDemoCrazy.
So forget what you learned in elementary, it’s not a pound sign, a number sign, or even a music sharp. When talking about social media, it’s a hashtag. And there is no pre-set list of hashtags to use so you can create your own hashtag. And if you’re the first person to use it, then voila! You’ve hatched a new hashtag!