Hashtags have become an efficient way to get news and topics out to a range of communities to view. According to Dictionary.com, a hashtag is (on social-networking websites) a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. Hashtags allow people to tag their tweets or statuses to provide context and designate others to a specific topic. The hashtag has come a long way in social media and advertising especially. One click can connect students to a whole new subcommunity for a topic.

“It’s our visual storytelling platform,” ”

— Mike Hayes, digital marketing manager

Hashtags started on social media sites, the main ones being Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On Facebook and Twitter, students can use a hashtag to search for a social issue like #CharlieHebdo or for a favorite TV show like #GreysAnatomy. The possibilities for searches are endless. Lately, many social media users have been relying on hashtags for information on social issues. Many people start a new hashtag when a worldwide crisis happens such as, #BlackLivesMatter, #MuslimApologies and #AyotzinapaSomosTodos. Each hashtag being immensely different, but still having others opinions on the subject.

In southern Minnesota, a hashtag that has been trending is #FEDT. The Faribault Emeralds dance team were accused of cheating at the Class AAA State High-Kick Dance Championship and many of their competitors allege they copied a dance from out of state and did not deserve the  championship win. Many social media users were sharing their thoughts on the issue. Using the #MSHSLDance, #Dancergate and #FEDTProud many commentators weighed in on the situation.

In advertising, many companies apply a hashtag onto their product, such as Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. According to Instagram for Business, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first brands to join Instagram in February 2011. “It’s our visual storytelling platform,” explains Ben & Jerry’s digital marketing manager Mike Hayes. As Hayes sees it, “We’re a curator of our brand story now.” Ben and Jerry’s has the option where people who buy their ice cream post a picture with it and add the hashtag #BenAndJerrys with a chance to have their picture posted on the official Ben and Jerry’s instagram. With many people adapting more to the digital world, this type of advertising has become more effective for  companies to get more widely known by a variety of audiences.

WIth many of the Owatonna High School’s staff and administration joining Twitter, there have been many trending hashtags. For example, #BringBackSpicyChickenWraps was a very popular one with Mr. Randall. It also connects the students with the staff in the building. Whenever a student has a comment or concern about a school related topic, they can just let any staff member on Twitter know with a tweet and by adding a hashtag, which sums up their comment or concern.