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Social media questions you were too embarrassed to ask – Part 1. What the heck is a #hashtag?

9/20/2015

Question Mark SlantedIf you have some experience on social media you might be sitting at your desk thinking – “Seriously who doesn’t know what a hashtag is?” And that’s why this is the first in my series –
Social media questions you were too embarrassed to ask.
The truth is social media has it’s own rules and language and if you’re not across them the whole idea of participating in social media is daunting. The language of social media is dominated by terms and language and many, many acronyms and abbreviations that confuse people.

I’ve met lots of people lately who are new to Facebook, don’t “get” Twitter, think Instagram is for young people and have no idea clue what in the known universe Pinterest is. Some of these people want to know but feel silly when they ask and some of them NEED to know but can’t get simple answers.

I’m going to do a series of simple blog posts that help answer some of these questions. These are questions that people ask me in real life and I try and explain in simple language.

So let’s get started.
What the heck is a #hashtag?
Here is my simple explanation – if the internet is a giant encyclopedia then the #hashtag is a way to look through the index of knowledge and find something.

If you are on Twitter or Facebook for example and you want to look up pandas you search #pandas (see just pop that hashtag in front) and you will find all the posts by people who have used that hashtag ie people who want to share their panda info with you.

See what I did just here and what I found (such cute pandas)
#Pandas Screenshot
And it works the same way on Twitter.

On Twitter people also use #hastags to follow certain things that interest them. Kind of like putting a bookmark in that encyclopedia so you can find new information. Here’s a picture of my own Tweetdeck page (Tweetdeck is a platform to look at or sort Twitter information). As you can see each column represents a #hastag.
Twitter Screenshot
So that’s it…a #hashtag is a way to categorise and look for something on social media.

Comments

Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
9/30/2015 05:11:30 am

Excellent explanation! It really is that simple. A hashtag is a way of indexing topics. And, boy, is it a great tool for searching! I find all kinds of gems searching topics by hashtags.

Jayne Denker
9/30/2015 06:12:17 am

I feels ya–my mom, a senior citizen, is completely disinterested in anything internet-related, but sometimes she’ll ask a question about it, and I have to wrack my brain to figure out the simplest explanation so she’ll be able to grasp the concept. Great explanation of those pesky things! (In my day it was a number sign! *insert Simpsons pic of newspaper with headline ‘Old Man Yells at Cloud” here*)

Lee Ann Howlett
9/30/2015 08:50:57 pm

Nice and easy explanation! I find myself making up my own hashtags constantly on Twitter to draw attention to a tweet. As a former librarian, maybe it’s in my blood to want to categorize or index everything. 🙂

Tracy Krimmer
10/1/2015 09:22:49 am

So, hashtags. For the longest time I *despised* when people used them on FB. IMO they were meant for Instagram and Twitter. Now when I do takeovers they are awesome. Hashtag in the event #Krimmer1 or something for each giveaway at the end of the post and you can easily go back and find your posts 🙂
Reply
Monique
10/4/2015 07:53:37 pm

That’s an awesome tip for takeovers and FB parties and #hashtags…I really hate that searching through for winners of prizes the next day!

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