What the Heck’s a Hashtag?

We’ve all seen them. Those blue, underlined, strings of letters or words at the end or in the middle of our favourite celeb’s latest tweet from the red carpet. #omgitsthebieb

We kinda know what it means. But, do you click it? Is it just a joke? How come other people have the same tag in their tweets?

Today’s Dc #WhatTheFAQ has a couple of A’s to satisfy these pressing Q’s.

Briefly put, hashtags are a way to join a conversation by tagging your post with a topic of discussion. They’re also a fun way to give context to your comment or to express sarcasm.

Let’s look a bit more closely at those two hashtag uses.

Hashtags help you start or join a conversation

Tweets or posts with the same hashtag all get grouped together so you can see what people are saying about that topic.

For example, we had a pretty crazy winter in Newfoundland and Labrador, and when the lights went out lots of people started adding #DarkNL to their posts. Clicking on that hashtag displayed what everyone was talking about even if you didn’t follow them specifically, helping people stay connected to the latest developments in a scary and uncertain situation.

Hashtags give context or add humour to a comment

In the fast-paced world of social media, brevity helps. Enter hashtags, which can allude to a broader topic, quickly giving context to what you just said. For example, “Four pit stops for ice cream in one day? Don’t mind if I do! #SummerRoadTrip”

Then there’s my favourite, hashtag use for fun and sarcasm. We all know that tone can be lost when using text only, so a hashtag can add a little zing to make it clear what we mean: “OMG! I just saw one of the Jonas Brothers! eeee!!! #BandsIHate”

Finally, let me leave you with something that hit my inbox today. Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day” was, in fact, “hashtag” and they had this to say about it: “Hash” is short for “hash mark,” a term for what we more commonly call a pound sign (and, less commonly, an octothorp).

Octothorp?! I think I see a new trend emerging. #OctothorpJokes

Do you have a question you want answered? Contact us or leave it in the comments and you may see it in a future edition of What the FAQ?!