If you have ever used social media, you have most likely seen the “hashtag.”
hash·tag /ˈhaSHtag / noun: (On social media sites such as Twitter) a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.
In 2009, the hashtag impacted society like an atom bomb, quickly changing the course of the modern language. Ever since Twitter strung together the disconnect of key words with the hashtag, people have been able to easily search for key words or phrases that would open up connections to other relating articles or tweets. People’s thoughts and opinions were soon connected into a web of hashtags
Hashtags can stand alone as their own sentence: #TGIF (thank God it’s Friday)
Hashtags can also be used to suggest emotion: #lol (laughing out loud)
Or sarcasm and humor: #sorrynotsorry
The symbol became so widely used, that in 2012 the American Dialect Society declared it Word of the Year. It became so overused by nearly everyone that it was officially declared comic (well, not officially…just satirized perfectly by Jimmy Fallon and his pal Justin Timberlake).
The hashtag has become so immersed in our culture that even brides make it their top priority to create the perfect wedding hashtag (i.e. #WeSaidIDoOnJune2, #SallyandSamTietheKnot). A personalized hashtag creates a folder of photos and updates about the topic or event.
Companies have also caught wind of the hashtag. It has quickly become a popular marketing tool and is now present in various media outlets. Television shows will hashtag character names, movies will hashtag titles and events, and restaurants will hashtag special offerings. The symbol can stand as a marketing/branding/PR technique to promote campaigns while also allowing followers to interact with the company by posting pictures or voicing their opinion. And while this phenomenon first took place on Twitter, other platforms like Facebook and Instagram have joined the hashtag conversation as well.
Greenville, SC, used hashtags as the cornerstone of their plan to elevate the perception of Greenville and highlight recent changes that have been made to the city. By encouraging the use of the hashtag #YeahThatGreenville in partnership with a website of the same name, they took the combined forces of Greenville fans and residents to spread the word that Greenville is hip, young, cool and the place that everyone wants to be.