What Is a Hashtag?
A hashtag is a # (hash) symbol followed by a word, a nmemonic, or several words strung together without any spaces or punctuation between them. For example, the following are all examples of what a hashtag might look like: #hash, #tag, #ht, #hashtag and #thisisahashtag. Depending on how and where they are used, they may appear quite cryptic, but they will always mean something to someone, somewhere! You may find the definition below helpful:
Why Use Hashtags?
Quite simply, hashtags help in sharing and finding information and conversations on social media. Think about how you store files on your laptop or tablet so you can find them again easily - you probably have different types of files grouped together in different folders, each with their own unique name. Hashtags work in a similar sort of way on social media, making it easier and quicker to access information you are interested in.
What Hashtags Are In Use?
Lots of different hashtags are in use at any given moment in time. If you see a hashtag you don't understand or that doesn't seem to make sense to you, and would like to know what it means, you can check it out on tagdef.com. This handy website will even translate the meaning into other languages for you!
The most popular current hashtags are referred to as "Trending". To see what I mean, let's check out what people are currently chatting about on Twitter. First of all, navigate to your Twitter homepage. On the left side of the screen, underneath your name and photo, you will see a list of words and phrases. This is the list of currently trending subjects - in other words, this list tells you the most popular conversation topics on Twitter right now.
Some of the items in Twitter's trending list will be hashtags, and these are easily identifiable because they start with a hash sign. They are also clickable links, and if you click on one of the items in the list, all the relevant discussions on that subject will appear on your screen. You'll notice that the currently trending list tends to be things that are in the news right now, plus other current events of general interest such as what's happening in a particular sport or on a very popular TV programme.
How do I use a Hashtag?
You can always reply to a specific tweet in the usual way, but to join in a current discussion on Twitter you simply add the hashtag everyone else is using for that discussion to one of your tweets. You can also add a hashtag to your Instagram photo to share information about that photo, or you can start your own conversation by including a hashtag in a Facebook status.
In this way, hashtags can be used to share things like #photographs or #recipes. You can also search for hashtags on social media, to find discussions and images that you are interested in. Once you start to use them, you'll notice that hashtags are also used to market products and services, to seek solutions to questions or problems, to complain about something - the possibilities are endless!