What is a hashtag? There’s a lot of confusion out there about what a hashtag is and what it does. I am often asked how, where, and when to use them. So what is a hashtag? Today we will talk about what a hashtag is and what it does. We will explore how to use them on your social media accounts in later parts of the series.

You’ve seen them everywhere.  You may also remember a hashtag referred to as a “pound sign.” The symbol is the same, and it looks like this: #. Some people even call it the “hash sign.”

A hashtag is a symbol that works like a digital filing system. Click To Tweet

I mentioned that a hashtag is used as a digital file system. Think of it like going to the library. If you want to find materials about a certain type of flower, you would do a search to find said flower. Then you would go to various places within the library to find the materials you would like to sort through to find the information that you need. That is what a hashtag does. It allows you to easily and quickly find other’s content that they have tagged with relevant tags. They are used predominantly in social media like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

The use of hashtags came about because someone recognized that there needed to be a way to trace discussion topics on Twitter. So he added the # sign before a keyword, and the hashtag was born.

Most events and brands you see these days have their own hashtags to make it easy for people to find them. A lot of companies even have a hashtag protocol. For example, if you have a lifestyle blog, you might have a similar hashtag for your categories. Your hashtag might be #mylifestyleblog as the primary tag. But if you have a section of your blog that deals with fashion you might have another tag specifically for that called #mylifestyleblogfashion or #mylifestyleblogstyle.

Many of us have hashtags that we like to use too. Social Biz Babes has its own tag. It’s registered as ‪#‎socialbizbabes‬. Feel free to use #socialbizbabes in your posts so that we can consider featuring you on our social media accounts.

A hashtag’s popularity can also grow to the point of trending. A hashtag is often related to what is happening in real time. The Academy Awards will have popular tags like #TheOscars or #academyawards2016. These tags will be used heavily leading up to and immediately after the event. But in June, you won’t see the tag used quite so often.

There are quite a few seasonal or daily tags. A recent popular tag many people used on Instagram was #nationalsiblingsday. The tag surged in popularity for that day, and we will likely see it rise again next year on its date.

You may also see people using hashtags ironically as well. A lot of people enjoy using hashtags to run a sentence together. For example, you might see someone tag #imtoooldforthis or #icantwaitfortheweekend. While these may make sense on that particular post, these tags are meant to be humorous rather than to truly help others find your content. It’s natural for people who see these types of tags to wonder what is a hashtag since it doesn’t necessarily do something.

Using hashtags isn't the same across the board for your different social networks. Click To Tweet

Using hashtags isn’t the same across the board for your different social networks.  The way you use hashtags on Facebook is different from how you do it on Instagram and Twitter. My next post in the series will discuss how to use hashtags on Instagram. Thanks for tuning in to answer your question “what is a hashtag?”! I look forward to teaching you more about them in subsequent posts.

To your great success!

Jennifer Quisenberry, Social Biz Babes, founder of Social Biz Babes, social media expert, social media training

Jennifer Quisenberry, founder of Social Biz Babes

Jennifer Quisenberry is a Social Influencer, author and blogger. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and two dogs.