What is a Hashtag?

Ever since Twitter popularized the use of a pound sign before a word or phrase hashtags are now everywhere. Many other social media outlets have been quick to pick up on the trend, but many people are still in the dark about this. One of the most common questions that I get from people is, “What is a hashtag?”

Like mentioned earlier, a hashtag is string of characters that is paired with a pound sign at the beginning, #somethingkindoflikethis . While it looks cool, it does more than just make it seem like the space bar on your keyboard isn’t working. A hashtag carries out several different functions like categorizing messages, tracking content and making searchable links.

The follow up question that often comes with the first one is, “How does it work?”  With some of the functions mentioned above, it’s easy to think that a hashtag is something that works in a complicated way. The truth is, it is pretty straightforward. Once a pound sign is put together with a word or words it automatically creates a link. Anything with the same hashtag automatically gets grouped together. When a hashtag is clicked or searched for, everything under it comes up.

These have become popular because they are fun, and at the same time it is an effective way of communicating. In fact, they’ve become such a hit that popular hashtags can be found on sites like this one from Jimmy Fallon:

http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/blogs/2013/10/jimmy-reads-his-favorite-momtexts-tweets/#item=300014

The best part is that these aren’t just for fun. Hashtags can also be a good way to boost business. Both big and small business owners are now using these in order to target specific markets, gather and spread information and even communicate with customers. What’s more is that hashtags can quickly go from being just a topic of interest into a chat room. Since people who use the same hashtags share a common interest, it is not uncommon for them to begin exchanging information about the topic.

Whether you’re looking for a way to sell to a specific market, want feedback about your product or service, or even just want to share information with customers a hashtag is a quick and easy solution.

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