“To hash tag or not to hash tag?” is a question I’ve been pondering over the past 24 hours after a Facebook conversation I had with another person.
Personally, I am all for the hash tag. Other people might view the hashtag as a trend that will dumb down our society and future generations. To be honest, when the hash tag debuted in my life, I simply saw it as a typo on my Facebook feed. Then the symbol started popping up everywhere, “What the heck does this pound symbol MEAN?! What is the significance?” I asked myself. It wasn’t until I created an Instagram that it all started to make sense. The hashtag is a way to connect with other individuals on social media that share the same interests as you. A stroke of genius! Simply press the ‘#’ key, type in your interest, and you can search the vast world wide web for people who have the same hobbies, share the same passion, have the same goals, or travel to places you want to visit sharing photos of their journey. What a revolutionary idea!
I did a little research to discover the hashtag was created by Chris Messina, the founder of the consulting company Citizen Agency. In 2011, many years after Twitter was developed, Chris Messina created the tool that would take the modge podge of information on Twitter and create order and clear meaning out of it all: the hashtag. Like anything else big and revolutionary, it started out small as an idea on his blog. His idea was to use the pound symbol as a prefix to tweets, or “whispers” as he called them, to garner specific information about each post, allowing users to connect or “eavesdrop” at will. After the introduction of the hashtag, many industry experts began to actively discuss how the hashtag could and should evolve into something greater.
4 years ago the hashtag was born, and continues to connect people across the globe, as well as promote and market brands, companies, hobbies, campaigns and so much more that can fall under those categories.
These are just a few examples of the larger scale use of hashtags.
The reason I personally favor using the pound symbol in my IG captions and Twitter updates is because it connected me with other individuals on social media who shared the same passion for fitness as I did when I competed in Emerald Cup last year. I decided to do a bikini competition completely on my own without prior experience in the biggest show in the PNW. I was excited and nervous, and I only knew one person who had competed in a bikini competition before. Out of curiosity I searched the hashtag #EmeraldCup2014 to discover several competitors training for the same category and even the same height class! We immediately created a tight knit bond, supporting each other through the long months of training, intensive dieting, tears, and time spent away from family and friends. Some of the sweetest and most supportive girls I know I met using this tool on social media. To this day we still talk, encourage each other in our fitness life styles, and support each other.
Using hashtags also built my follower base during my competition prep, earning me over 10,000 followers on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook combined. I dreamt of being sponsored by a company to promote my fitness lifestyle, so I began reaching out to several companies, probably anywhere between 30-50! Companies are looking for people with a large follower base so their products has a higher outreach potential to gain new customers. After plenty of hard work, patience, and marketing myself via the hashtag, I became sponsored by two companies: Femme who provided me with endless supplements and Lenny and Larry’s who continue to bless me with the most delicious protein cookies on the market.
In addition to 2 sponsorships, I have also participated in several social media campaigns through Influenster, earning myself thousands of dollars in complimentary products ranging from nail polishes, beauty products, designer make up, treats for my dog, a Victoria’s Secret Sport Bra and Capris, and my absolute favorite prize: a $500 gift card to Victoria’s Secret! YAS. My husband was very pleased with that prize, it came at the very low price of a pound sign…. FREE.
So while others may think the hashtag is stupid as fuck, I have reaped endless benefits from it: friendships, support, sponsorships, thousands of dollars in products, and this pretty damn good blog post about the matter.
Instead of being completely disgusted with the hashtag, how ’bout we all embrace it? We could be those 85 year old Senior Citizens that refuse to use a computer or learn to text, limiting our communication with others, or we can be progressive and get with the times.
Of course, this is all a matter of opinion, so there’s no use arguing. Ha.