Hash Tags and their use
A hash tag, #, is a form of punctuation; like a comma, semi colon and full stop.
The rules of grammar are governed by common use in the English language. Dictionary companies publish their lists of new words accepted into their dictionary’s that are new words in the English language in every year. Grammar changes too.
Social media and the Internet mean facilitate regular contact with more people in history. The flow of information is constant. People write and publish status updates, photos and their opinions. To read everything, for most people, would mean doing very little else. The response has been an enhanced ability to scan text. This is now an entrenched behaviour – a habit. The limited amount of characters allowed on some platforms (eg Twitter) compounds this behaviour. Hence, the #.
The definition of how to use a hash tags is understood by many but not all. In time this will be taught in schools.
Hash tags are a prefix to a word, commonly used abbreviations or a string of words. The # prefix is used directly before the first letter, for example #beautiful or #suninthesky.
There are three reasons to using a #.
- Additional meaning in short hand
When a sentence features a word with #, it is used to denote both the most import word(s) in that sentence. The # acts a signal as to where the emphasis lies.
“The #sunset was #beautiful last night”
In this case the writer wants the reader to focus on the words beautiful and sunset.
Additional meaning in short hand
The writer in the example above really wants you to understand they have seen a beautiful sunset. If they are limited in the amount of characters or have only a short of time they would post:
The reader will understand the key points the author wishes to communicate. If the word night also had the # prefix then the significance of the word night would be on the same level as beautiful and sunset.
Clicking on a hash tag immediately pulls in other posts with the same hash tag or that feature the same word.
This is reduces the number of actions necessary to search for similar content. The search takes place by simply clicking on the hash tagged word. This makes it easier to find posts with similar emphasis that my interest the reader.
Without the hashtag the reader would have to:
- find the search function, then
- type in the word, then
- click on search to find the content.
That’s three actions. The more things people have to do to get the desired the result, even if it is a reward, the less likely they are to do it – which makes the hash tag very useful!