When something happens in the world, it happens on Twitter. And interestingly enough, sometimes, when something happens on Twitter, it also happens to the world. That’s right, we’re talking about the power of the humble hashtag.
On Twitter, people can connect with anyone around the globe and have their voice heard by millions. On 23 August 2007, Twitter user Chris Messina tweeted a suggestion to use the # symbol to group conversations on the platform. This marked the birth of the hashtag, and made 23 August #HashtagDay.
Once you’ve started using Twitter, you’ll start to see hashtags all over. The “#” symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet, and can help categorize Tweets and find others like it.
Hashtags continue to play a role in helping people join important conversations to this day. By using hashtags, people around the world have made Twitter their microphone, shaped culture, and changed the world.
Three things hashtags gave Singapore
The most-used hashtags since the start of 2020 show the very different ways that Singaporeans use Twitter, and what they are looking for in how they use the platform.
1. A chance to connect communities
When your favorite artist is based in another country, it’s important to show your support and let them know that your fan community is following from overseas. Twitter also helps fans of these groups make connections and deepen their friendships by making it easier to find fan communities.
For fans of Filipino pop stars MayWard (@mwtrendsetter) and SB19 (@SB19Official), as well as K-Pop giants GOT7 (@GOT7Official) and BTS (@bts_bighit), Twitter helped them to connect using hashtags related to their favorite groups, and to keep up with the latest updates from their favorite groups whether they were in the Philippines or in South Korea.
— MayWard Angels Official😇 (@RainLouise1) August 11, 2020
2. A chance to be part of history
#GE2020 was a critical moment for Singapore. Heralded as a chance to guide Singapore’s future, this General Election came at a pivotal time in Singapore’s recovery from COVID.
In the social media era, Twitter wasn’t just a place to find the latest news, but also a place where the news was shaped, and #GE2020 was the place to participate.
Shopping before #COVID19: Hmmm I’ll have a look around all the shops then pop back to this one later
During #COVID19: I must think of every possible thing I could do or want from this shop, because I have already gone to the trouble of SafeEntry
— Kirsten Han 韩俐颖 (@kixes) August 6, 2020
Singaporeans also used hashtags to keep track of news relating to other issues they care about, such as #climatechange. Through using these hashtags, it’s possible to see the latest headlines related to this issue, but also the thoughts of other people who care about this.
Local coastal waters experienced a spike in temperature due to ocean warming. Spotted corals partially and completely bleached along the coast. 😔 Recover soon! #climatechange #oceanwarming #GlobalWarming #coralbleaching #coralreefs #Singapore pic.twitter.com/PfqDZGFnE7
— MeiLin Neo (@MeilinNeo) June 27, 2020
3. Using hashtags on Twitter
People connect every day using hashtags, for all types of hashtags. Hashtags can help you connect to the largest conversations, spanning everyone on Twitter across multiple continents; hashtags can also help to build deep connections to some of the focused and specialized communities on Twitter.
Hashtags can be important social movements, but can also be fun activities and challenges to connect you to other people that share your same hobbies and interests.
Here are the top 10 hashtags in Singapore since the start of 2020:
Communities are connecting beyond the top hashtags, as well. Childhood favorite cartoon Sailor Moon trended on Twitter as part of the #sailormoonredraw hashtag challenge, which encouraged amateur and budding artists from across the world to recreate a still from the famous series.
The hashtag itself showed the global nature of how hashtags work, starting among Japanese fan artists before spreading to global prominence, with artists from all countries adding their own versions.
— Stanley Artgerm Lau (@Artgerm) May 18, 2020
Another community that uses hashtags to connect on Twitter is gamers playing #AnimalCrossing. When the game was released in March 2020, it quickly rose to the top of gaming conversations, as people were excited to build the island of their dreams and express themselves.
Being able to invite others to your island, whether for tours or for turnip transactions, drove gamers to connect socially to find new inspiration for their islands, or new trading partners for items and turnips.
— Fira✨ (@firamint2) August 14, 2020
How to use hashtags
To use the hashtag, just use the “#” symbol before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in your Tweet.
In addition, here are some practical do’s and don’ts to make a great hashtag:
- Make it short, distinct, and easy to remember. Avoid typos to make your Tweet discoverable.
- Think of witty or relatable hashtags to give people a reason to use and respond to it.
- Consistently use your hashtag as you Tweet for recall and to increase its visibility and exposure.
- Ask your friends and followers to use your hashtag.
- Over-hashtag. One to two relevant hashtags per Tweet is the sweet spot. Remember: character count matters.
- Use all CAPS. Unless it’s an acronym, this feels like shouting and also affects readability.
Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.
Words of wisdom: remember to only use hashtags in Tweets relevant to the topic and don’t #spam #with #hashtags or overuse the # in a single Tweet.