What is a Hashtag?
If you’ve ever used the internet, chances are you have already come across a #hashtag.
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded with a # (hashtag) sign. Think of hashtags as keywords, which are easily browse-able and searchable. Although now available on many networks and used for many different things, hashtags were initially invented as a way to organize and interlink Twitter conversations.
Brief History of the Hashtag
The hashtag’s big break was in 2007, originally coined by Chris Messina adding tags to where he was tweeting from and what it was about. But it wasn’t until the San Diego forest fire in October 2007 when hashtags really took off. In July 2009, Twitter began to hyperlink all hashtags in tweets to Twitter search results for the hashtagged word.
Use of the Hashtag
As of today, hashtags can be used on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Vine.
Many people use hashtags every day for events and emergencies, and for following breaking news. By clicking on that hashtag, they can view continuous feeds of tweets and posts (depending on the network) that could be sent with a certain hashtag.
Hashtags have also been adopted to tag and share everyday things. #photography can help you find some new up-and-coming photographer (or get noticed as a photographer), #design for graphic designers, or #science for something to stimulate the mind! If you are going to share something of interest, hashtag it so others searching for that topic can find it!
Many television shows have even embraced hashtags. Shows regularly appear in Twitter and Google+ trending topics (#DoctorWho, #GameOfThrones). Special events such as awards shows (#oscars) and reality TV shows (#bigbrother) are especially popular among many on Facebook, Google and Twitter. The idea is, if a show becomes a trending topic, it could convince even more people to watch the show!
Hashtag Tracking and Analysis
Want to find out what hashtags people are using right now? Head over to What’s Hot? on Google+, or you to Discover on Twitter. Another great resource is What the Trend, for discovering hashtags and tracking hashtags that you are curious about. You can even browse hashtags by region and country. Helpful for international businesses!
One great tool you should try is Tagboard. The main goal of Tagboard is to search through App.net, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter and Vine for a specific hashtag. They present results beautifully, each network side-by-side or individually displayed. You can even interact with posts you find! Comment, Like, Reply, Re-share, and +1 with ease. Just a fantastic way to browse and target by hashtag.
Have any tips, advice, or experience using #hashtags? Share it in the comments below.