I had a question about hashtags from my very own husband today. You see them everywhere, but you may not understand them.

Hashtags are basically a filing system for finding certain subjects on social media.  Hashtags start with the pound sign # and are usually a word or multiple words with no punctuation.



In many forms of social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, these hashtags turn into links that you can click or tap to see other posts on the subject.

For example, I took this photo of snow during the winter and posted it to Instagram with several hashtags.

When viewing the photo on Instagram, you can tap the #snow hashtag because it is an active link.

That will pull up other photos posted on Instagram with the #snow hashtag. It would take some time to look at all of them, as you can see there are over 35,000,000 posts with that hashtag.

I could choose another of the hashtags on that post. #snowledo is a hashtag that became popular when Toledo experienced record snowfall. Tapping that hashtag will show images taken around the Toledo area.

One hashtag you’ll see frequently on social media is #TBT or #ThrowBackThursday.  On Thursdays, a lot of people choose to post older photographs, the older the better, with that hashtag.  Here I am heading out to a party with my husband in 1989.

Another popular tag is #MCM or ManCrushMonday. Hashtags often end up getting abbreviated since there are a limited number of characters on services like Twitter.

You will also often see TV show displaying hashtags at the bottom of the screen encouraging viewers to talk about the show on social media using the hashtag for the show or sometimes a specific phrase.

Hashtags can be important to television shows because they can show popularity in a way that TV ratings may miss. Advertisers watch closely which programs generate the most social media buzz and choosing a single hashtag for a program makes the numbers easier to follow. Hashtags enable viewers to discuss programs and sporting events with fellow fans all over the world while the show is happening and many viewers look forward to these little Twitter parties. 

A favorite author of mine recently held a Twitter event where fans could use a particular hashtag to attend a virtual party where she interacted with fans as if she were the main character in her books.

 Hashtags can be used for more than just fun. They are also popular for sharing opinions and information on news events.  You might hashtag #StateOfTheUnion  or in the case of a disaster of some kind, you might see a hashtag like #NapaQuake with images of the disaster along with news and warnings from safety officials. You’ll notice now that most news outlets will choose a hashtag for a major event and use it for every post about that event. Tapping or clicking that hashtag is a good way to see the latest updates.


When a family member got married this fall, they asked guests at the wedding to use a specific hashtag on all of the photos that were taken and posted, that way they could easily find all of the photos of their happy day. I belong to an Instagram group that uses a specific hashtag that lets other members find our photos easily. I wrote an article previously describing how we used hashtags to meet up and share photos online.

 If you’d like to add hashtags to your social media posts, remember that you always start with the # sign. There are no spaces or punctuation in a hashtag. Capitalization doesn’t count for hashtags, but don’t hashtag in all caps, it look like you are yelling. Capitalizing the first letter of every word in a multi–word hashtag can make it easier to read. For example it’s easier to read #IHateSnow than #ihatesnow.

Hashtags have become commonplace fairly quickly. In fact you’ll sometimes hear someone say something like, “I had to spend $400 to fix my brakes. Hashtag broke.”  To describe their situations or feelings about something.

I hope this helps you understand hashtags a little better.