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What actually is … a hashtag?

2 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
© photothek.net

Hashtags are single words or groups of words under posts on social media, usually in the image description or title of a post. They work like a keyword or filter: when you click on a hashtag , all posts that have been tagged with that hashtag are displayed.

Where does the hashtag come from?

Twitter (now X) was the first to introduce the hashtag so that users can follow all posts on a topic that interests them. Whether under pictures on Instagram or video posts on TikTok and YouTube – it’s hard to imagine all the world’s popular social platforms today without hashtags.

How do you set hashtags?

A hashtag always consists of the hash sign “#” and a description behind it (tag = keyword). Word groups are written one after the other without spaces or punctuation. Mostly, several hashtags are used under or behind a post. This increases the likelihood that others will take notice of the post. Since the Internet is a space without national borders, English hashtags are often used, so people from many countries can search for them.

What is the significance of a hashtag in social media?

Hashtags are a good way to reach many people. Influencers use them to become better known. The hashtags with the most posts on Instagram include #fashion and #style, under which mostly new outfits are presented. For many fashion brands, Instagram is therefore also an important channel for advertising.

But hashtags are also used for political topics, e.g. to draw attention to a social problem and to encourage people to think and act. Entire movements have been created through hashtags , such as #bodypositivity, under which pictures of real bodies are collected to counter unrealistic beauty ideals. The climate movement was also able to reach many people online with #fridaysforfuture and make the issue of climate change a topic around the world. Hashtags are therefore also a means of stimulating discussions on topics that otherwise receive little attention. Many women around the world have shared their experiences of sexual harassment via #metoo. It quickly became a big issue in the public eye. This also allowed cases of harassment and abuse to be made public. The boundaries of the online world and the world outside the Internet are increasingly interconnected and influence each other.

Hashtags can motivate people and create a sense of belonging: During the corona crisis, users posted pictures and Stories shared under #westayhome of their time at the home office or at home with family. So hashtags are also a way to feel connected to each other, which can be nice and fun during a difficult time.

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