The hashtag or # has become hot property in the last year with Facebook now adopting the little symbol to help users tag a conversation/photo so others can find it. Already used widely on Twitter and Instagram (as well as others) to help other people find tweets referring to topics or handy work you want people to see, the hashtag seems to have been first referred to in a blog to indicate a Twitter grouping in 2007 after being used intensively during that years Californian wildfires to group updates from residents of San Diego. (Then known as two words – Hash Tag).
Twitter noticed this popularity and by 2010 introduced its “Trending Topics” feature on the Twitter front page which displayed the most up to date hashtags that were the most popular. In time this has been broken down so you can search trends in your local area, nationally or internationally and has become the mainstay of radio station jokes (let’s get something trending) and the promotional tool for reality TV (#GABO – Great Australian Bake off etc).
One use that has really benefitted the professional worker is the use of the hashtag for events and conferences. By using hashtags people before, at and after events can communicate with and about the topics the event is discussing. Some conferences also use the idea to collate questions for panellists and engage audiences in large rooms via a Twitter wall. More recently the event/conference hashtag has been used by people who can’t attend due to geographic or budgetary constraints. This has been called #gatehashing where people tap into an event as it happens using the hashtag to interact with attendees, ask and answer questions without even being there.
The use of the hashtag has also led, I believe, to the bastardisation of regular words and the creation of new ones which are slowly creeping in to everyday use. You know the ones; I’ve heard YOLO and even hashtag used in conversation and where the hell did #foodporn come from. You can read more on how I believe the internet has ruined words.
For digital communications hashtags are also becoming very useful as they provide a means of grouping similar messages so then you as a user can search a hashtag for a topic that interests you and immediately get results rather than trawling the whole of your feed. By using the hashtag you get a set of messages in that topic range which then can lead to you being able to join in conversations, ask and answer questions and gives you the ability to follow new people with a similar mind-set.
In the world of Australian government (local, state and federal) there are a number of hot key hashtags which are worth taking a look at and are worth tagging in tweets if you want your ramblings about government to be found:
- #localgovau – used to highlight local government tweets and news in Australia
- #gov2au – used for the more digital based government tweets
- #digital – straight up does what it says on the tin tweets about digital
- #comms – as above but for communications
- #socmed or #socialmedia – both lead to all the cool social media messages from updates to crazy uses
- #IAP2 – IAP2 is a worldwide best practice organisation for public participation/community engagement but using #communityengagement often takes up too much space so using this hashtag allows more space to tweet. Add an ‘A’ to the end and it becomes more Australian.
- #smem – the use of social media in emergency management
- #auspol – tweets related to Australian politics
- #Socadl – SocAdl is a used by a group of like-minded people in Adelaide to share and ask questions about social media and digital comms in Adelaide. The hashtag is also linked to a physical group that meets regularly to watch guest speakers and share ideas. Maybe there is a similar group near you.
Of course this is only just a select few and I know there are hundreds more out there including some more fun ones worth dipping in to. Maybe we can start a list using commsgodigital to help those coming into the big wide world of hashtags a helping hand.
Do you have a hashtag you think deserves inclusion in our hot hashtags list? Let us know.
Photo credit: Lots of hash by mikecogh
About the author: Andrew Coulson
Andrew Coulson is Community Engagement Officer at the City of Salisbury