Think about the many ways in which we can search the web. First, there are various browsers to choose from: Chrome, FireFox, or Internet Explorer, for example. Then, you have search engine such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Then, after you choose those, you can search using Booleans or keywords. The rise in social media, however, reveals a new way to index information: hashtags. Now, you can search either individual social media platforms or across the internet using a hashtag to see what the general populace are talking about across the globe.
Over the past several years, hashtags have crept their way into our lives via social media and have become something we see every day. What started out as a simple way to sort conversations on social media platforms like Twitter has now become part of our daily correspondence. You hear things on the news, TV and radio shows such as “submit your entry via (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc) with the following hashtag for a chance to win!”
There are hashtags for everything from #Caturday for pictures of your cats on Saturday to #YouHadOneJob for job fails. You can search on social media sites for anything you desire using hashtags. #Coffee #rainbows or even #dogsinpajamas if that is your thing.
Of course, hashtags and social media have their downfalls as well. The latest is Soulja Boy, a rap artist who took the #mannequinchallenge and in his picture you could clearly see drug paraphernalia. In Latin America the Sinaloa Cartel is infamous for their Instagram and Twitter presence through hashtags such as #NarcoLife and #CarteldeSinaloa. José Rodrigo Aréchiga Gamboa who is known as El Chino Ántrax’s use of social media is what led to his arrest. While everyday people love to see how the rich and famous and sometimes people with alternate lifestyles live, the authorities probably have a hay day with sorting through the hashtags and seeing if they can pinpoint criminals and their locations.
For the honest working world, hashtags are great for marketing. As I write this article the morning before Thanksgiving, #TargetRun is trending on Twitter. Also, if you submit pics of food and book pairings on Litsy using the hashtag #LitsyCooks you will be entered to win a cookbook from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Culinary & Lifestyle. Hashtags are also great for conferences. It gives a way for conference participants to chime in with their thoughts and for other conference attendees to network. From Taxonomy Boot Camp #Taxobc, to SLA 2017 #SLA2017, hashtags are a great way to stay organized. Our own Bob Kasenchak is great at tweeting his conference thoughts. Don’t get to go to a conference? That’s ok, there’s a hashtag for that too! #ALALeftBehind is popular amongst librarians left to hold down the fort.
Professionals have to be careful using social media though. While doctors can help share their wealth of knowledge and promote patient education public health program information (using hashtags such as #HCSM and #MDChat) they can also give bad or misinformed information. This article talks about how physicians need to be careful about what they post on social media and to protect their professional image, quality, and most importantly, patient privacy.
So whether you’re a conference goer at #STMDigitalPublishing or a fan of #tatertots, there is a hashtag for you. Since libraries are my thing here are a few of my favorite hashtags to browse:
There are millions of hashtags to browse and you’re sure to find something you enjoy searching for. If you think of hashtags as the wild and crazy younger sibling in your family, then think of metadata tagging as the older and wiser one. While searching with hashtags can give you sixty thousand pictures of #ChickenTacos we at Access Innovations can tag your data so you can find your great grandma’s chicken taco recipe without all the other memes, gifs and selfies.
Jennifer Crawford, MLIS
Marketing Librarian for Access Innovations, Inc.