A slightly updated version of my Facebook post.
What’s a hashtag?
A hashtag is made simply by typing a word with the # symbol in front of it (hash mark, pound sign, whatever). That will get the magic Facebook machine (or Twitter, or Instagram, or anyplace else that uses hashtags) to understand that you’re telling it that that term is special.
What does that look like?
If I’m posting about the #gameofthrones finale or about the #yankees game or about the birth of the #royalbaby, once hashtags go live on Facebook, each of those hashtag terms would be automagically hotlinked. Just like how when you type a friend’s name, it automagically knows to prompt you to link to them.*
But what the hell for, man?
A hashtag makes the message that it’s part of able to be searched and grouped. So if I’m a big Yankee fan, I could click on that #yankees hashtag above and that would bring me to a feed of all of the posts people were making about the Yankees, if they’re also using that same hashtag in their posts.
This is new and different and I don’t like new and different things and why is Facebook doing this to meeeee?
Facebook is doing it because they see that people use Twitter this way and they want some of that sweet eyeball goodness. Facebook makes money from advertising and therefore there are only two reasons Facebook does anything: to keep you on Facebook longer, and make your interests easier for Facebook to know.
Okay fine but why do people want to use hashtags anyway this is so dumbbbb.
People use hashtags because it makes it easy to follow a topic, when the people talking about it may not just be people with whom you are already friends. This is especially helpful during live events – academic conferences, professional meetings, TV shows, sports games, etc.
It keeps conversation on a topic together, even when every post might not have the hashtag term in it. For instance, if you’re talking about the Yankee game, not every single thing you say will necessarily have the term “Yankees” in it organically. Hashtagging your comments keeps them in the topic.
As brilliant Christina commented on my Facebook version: “As I explained to a fellow librarian this morning, hashtags are subject headings. If you remember the card catalog, then that should make sense; if not, you might be to young.”
You see ironic hashtags used sometimes too. Those are ones where you’re not actually expecting other people to be using them; you’re just decorating your post with little asides, really. See below for examples.
Also, while I’m here, can all of the world under the age of 18 please stop doing that thing where you repeat the last letter of a word over and over as I did above, because it’s so fundamentally obnoxious it makes me want to cry.
Wow. I haven’t been a social media nerd in a while. This place has been too full of #stupidcancer. Damn it feels good to be a gangster.
* Anyone who knows me knows that I will only ever actually be found using one of those three sample hashtags. #iloveyoukateandwills #marrymeharry #idgocougarforthat #ofcoursetheresapinterestboard