I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the buzz about hashtags — you know, those little number signs that are referred to as the “pound sign” by the automated answering service.
Hashtags have traditionally been associated with Twitter accounts. Since I don’t have a Twitter account, the use of the hashtag has been a little elusive to me, so I’ve had to do some research to understand it. Luckily, because I work at a technology company, I have many co-workers who are ‘in the know’ who can also help with my research.
A couple of well-written explanations regarding hashtags (which were, by the way, recommended by co-workers) are at http://mashable.com/2013/10/08/what-is-hashtag/ and http://www.techforluddites.com/2013/11/the-twitter-hashtag-what-is-it-and-how-do-you-use-it. These articles explain that hashtags were first used on Twitter, but in the last year or so have crossed into other social media including Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr.
Using a hashtag helps to organize topics. When the tag is used, the words following the tag essentially become a searchable link. I imagine it to work kind of like an internet search bar. Other posts related to the twitter topic pull up, so that the topics are organized by subject. So if I’m posting a comment about the movie #AChristmasStory, that post would group together any posts on that same topic. For a sample of how the searchable links work, go to a Twitter page such as www.twitter.com/EnhancedTelecom and click on any post using a hashtag. A listing of other posts using the same hashtag will result. Whether or not you have your own account, you’ll be able to read and follow the hashtag conversations.
There is no pre-determined list of hashtag topics. Anyone can create a new hashtag conversation. Simply type the hash symbol, followed by your words, and if it hasn’t been used before you have officially created a hashtag.