What is a Hashtag?

Let me teach you about hashtags and how to use them! First, I Googled, “What is a hashtag?” in hopes that someone has already come up with an easy definition that I can relay to you in the simplest way possible. #wrong My primary problem is that the first few definitions I ran across don’t cover both sides of the equation. So here’s my definition:

A hashtag is a way for people to contribute to or search for a particular theme on social media.

All you need to do is to type the hash symbol (#) followed by a theme, i.e. #cat and you have made a hashtag. Congratulations! All social media outlets understand hashtags just like all people know how to count to 5 (duh). So for example, if you (let’s call you Tiffany – hey girl!) want to post/share a picture of you and your cat to Twitter, Instragram, Facebook, Tubmlr, Google+, We Heart It, Vine or Pinterest. In the comments section you may write, Love my #cat. You can even get fancy and write:

Love my #cat. #furryfriend #catlover #atlanta  #rescue #animalshelter #bestcatintheworld”

(bold letters for emphasis only) You can choose whatever theme/phrase you want and it can also be more than one word! You really would be amazed how long some people’s hashtags are and how many they use at one time. So that’s the contribution part.

Now, on to the search part, or what I like to call usage. Why do people use hashtags anyway? It must serve some purpose, right? This time, yes! Going back to our cat example above, let’s assume a guy, James, has just moved to Atlanta and wants to find other cat lovers in the area. How can he do that, leveraging hashtags? Well, James can open up any social media app / website and search to find exactly what he is looking for. For the search criteria he may type in “#lovemycat” or “#catlover” and guess what – he’ll see Tiffany’s post as well as anyone else who has used the hashtag. James opens your (I mean) Tiffany’s post, likes it. Tiffany notices how cute James is, sends him a DM (direct message), they go out on a date, then another one and they live happily every after. #kidding #tangent #itwasfunthough #lol

One more example – FASHION! Suppose you have a shiny new red skirt in your closet and you’re stumped about what to pair it with. Just hop on your favorite social media site, search for #redskirt and get tons of inspiration! Trust me when I say you will have no problem finding someone who has used this exact same hashtag. Some people post pictures of their outfits every day!

Here are the results of my #redskirt search on Instagram yesterday. It returned 20k+ pics. Happy hashtagging!!!