What is a #hashtag?

Hashtag3

A belated happy new year to everyone.  Its going to be a big year for Digital Bridgend as this month sees the project really kicking off. Now that the company to develop the project has been appointed, and consultations starting next week, its all systems go.  Anyway, the aim is to help our stakeholders understand more about the digital opportunities that exist, so we should be explaining a lot more on this blog over the coming months, starting with today’s topic: the Hashtag. The hashtag is something that we will undoubtedly come across frequently during the life of Digital Bridgend so lets look at it in a bit more detail and see how it is used.

A hashtag is best defined as a word that is used throughout many social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for example that is preceded by the symbol #.  The hashtag symbol helps categorise the content or file it so that it can be easily retrieved and viewed by other viewers. It is merely a way in which content published in social media can be ordered or filed under a specific topic.  One of the simplest ways in which I’ve heard it described is to view each hashtag like a draw in a filing cabinet, where each draw contains information on that particular topic. Information is stored in each draw according to what hashtag the information contains. The draws opens when the user searches for the particular topic using the relevant hashtag. Social media applications such as Twitter and Instagram allow you to search by hashtags and then they return lists of relevant content. If you use these applications, try the search facility using any number of words preceded by hasthtags and view the content published.  We will be exploring how best we can use hashtags for the #digitalbridgend project in the coming months.

Hashtags believed to have originated on Twitter. Some believe it began in 2009 when a plane (flight number 1549) crash landed in the Hudson River, New York. Onlookers started tweeting about the event and one user wrote a post and added the word or phrase  ‘#flight1549’ to it. Due to the online exposure of this event in real time, this hashtag soon went viral and suddenly thousands of people were using the hashtag #flight1549. Anyone wanting to find the latest information as it was unfolding in real time could just search on twitter  for “#flight1549” and see all the up to date news from people experiencing the events at the scene.

The power of twitter and hashtags became very clear after this. However, there is arguably today an over use of hashtags and its become almost a fad used in everyday conversation online to express something in shorthand.

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