There is no denial of the fact that social media influences users. Be it Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat, they all are different platforms for individuals to share their experiences. However, more often than not, the posts on social media are specific or related to a particular topic. At times this is made possible through the right use of hashtags. Thus, let us have a deeper look into the influence of hashtags on social media platforms.
HASHTAGS AND THE GROWING TREND OF THE USE:
Hashtag i.e. a meta-data tag initially represented numbers. However, since the mid-2000s there was the emergence of the trending use of hashtags. This happened in 2007. Chris Messina was the first individual to use it on the social media platform Twitter. It suggested the use of hashtags for Tweets relating to groups. Since that time, the use, as well as the influence of hashtags, has only grown over time. It begun with Twitter but soon spread to other platforms like Instagram. Most people who are very active on these platforms now prefer to use hashtags on almost all of their posts. This helps individuals to connect with the audience, to follow the ongoing trends, and most importantly to have relevant content.
However, one must keep in mind that hashtags are useful and influential as long as the account is public. Thus, mostly the users who want to expand their social networking experiences are into the growing trend of hashtags. As suggested by Chris Messina, it is useful for group-related content or posts.
IMPORTANCE AND INFLUENCE OF HASHTAGS:
There are several reasons behind the growing use of hashtags. These are the following:
SUPPORTING THE SOCIAL ISSUES:
Consider the example of the MeToo movement that happened a while ago. It was an international movement where women all around the world came together to speak up against the sexual abuse they faced. Also, to support each other. In 2006, Tarana Burke is an activist, who posted her story with #MeToo. She is a survivor of sexual harassment. Thus, through the #MeToo women came together on various social media platforms to speak up and support others. Several other issues such as #MentalHealth encourages people to support the cause.
HELPS TO FIND RELEVANT CONTENT:
Let us consider another scenario. You joined Instagram and like content related to travel. Even if you follow a few pages, you want more content. The best way to get what you want on your feed is to follow the #travel. This way you will be able to come across the various relevant posts from multiple accounts. It expands your feed. Hence, hashtags are a way to reach out to the target audience.
CAPTIONS AND HASHTAGS:
Imagine this situation. You want to create a post about Earth Day. Yet, you do not know the appropriate caption. You could either try explaining every aspect of it in your post. Although that would probably make the text longer and most users may not read it. Or you could simply write brief content and explain what the post is about. The simplest way to do this is through the use of hashtags. You can just type a small line of text with #EarthDay. This would also make our posts available to more users. Perhaps, it would help you to form a wider network with the environmentalists too.
ENGAGING WITH OTHER USERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS:
The use of hashtags does not just mean that an individual supports the social cause or likes the ongoing trend. It is also a way for the various users to connect with other people through the posts. For instance, when you post something with a particular hashtag, given your account is public. As a result, your post will be visible to other users. More people who find the hashtag topic relevant will view your posts. Therefore, using a hashtag is an influential way to increase followers or interact with them.
Various companies prefer to have their business profiles on social media to increase engagement with their audience/customers. Consequently, the use of hashtags is a branding strategy too. For instance, a company creates a hashtag to launch its product. Due to this, whenever a user comes across the company’s profile they will see the hashtag too. Soon enough, the hashtag will come to represent the company and its product. This will act as some sort of a branded label for the company. It will also create more awareness among the audience about that particular product.
Various companies prefer to have their business profiles on social media to increase engagement with their audience/customers. Consequently, the use of hashtags is a branding strategy too. For instance, a company creates a hashtag to launch its product. Due to this, whenever a user comes across the company’s profile they will see the hashtag too. Soon enough, the hashtag will come to represent the company and its product. This will act as some sort of a branded label for the company. It will also create more awareness among the audience about that particular product. An example of this could be Coca-Cola’s campaign. That is the #ShareACoke campaign that played a major role in expanding the company’s marketing strategy.
OTHER ASPECT OF HASHTAGS:
Excessive use of hashtags can have other consequences too. Like repetitive hashtags or copy-pasting the hashtags will have unplanned outcomes. It will result in penalization of the content through the algorithm of that particular social media platform. At the same time, few users might also use hashtags without understanding the context. This might lead to further controversies. Hashtags must be relevant to the post. Otherwise, it might also lead to spam. Therefore one must be careful to not overuse the hashtags.
To conclude, hashtags are something that serves multiple purposes. Which is one of the reasons why they are so influential. In the ear of social media and networking, hashtags are powerful took to connect with the audience. Branding too becomes cost-effective through hashtags. Therefore, what started as a trend is now the primary source of other emerging trends itself.