Learn from Smart Women

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Scenario: Social media is taking over the world.  Everything from billboards to wedding invitations has QR codes on them. You can order pizza from your car without a phone.  And worst (best?) of all, hashtags have practically become an entire language, if not a global epidemic. 

Now this could mean one of two things.  You either 1) are already on board, or 2) need lots of help getting on board. Luckily, if hashtags aren’t really your thing, this little bSmart guide is your #liferaft. 


Purchase your Edie Parker #Hashtag Clutch here

So what is a hashtag?

Well, it’s not the pound key.  Or the number symbol.  Or, if you’re a musical person, the way to write if a certain note is sharp.  It may look like all of those things, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

There are all sorts of metaphors out there trying to clear up this whole hashtag phenomenon.  One of my personal favorites is the filing system analogy.

Say your tweet is actually a printed document.  If you want people to find it, you put it in a filing folder relevant to the document's subject topic.  Likewise, you can look in any of a variety of folders to see what other people have said about the topic.  The only difference is that on any given social media website, everyone shares the same filing system, so you can easily see everything that’s ever been said about a certain topic (as long as it’s filed correctly.) 

6 types of hashtags

So what then is the purpose of a hashtag? Most of the time it’s to convey a message in a way that connects you with other people.  

Here are six of the main kinds of hashtags, and how you can use them:

The #label hashtag
Think: the stuff you’d type into a labelmaker
Practice: When have you done something this week that made you feel #accomplished?  Let us know what task you crossed off your to-do list and how you’re rewarding yourself for a job well done!
The #branding hashtag
Think: the stuff you find in the corner of your TV show
Practice: What’s your favorite television show or movie you’ve watched recently? (Is it #HouseOfCards, #Friends or #Scandal?) If you haven’t seen any, what’s on your list? We want to know! For bonus points, do some research and tag your favorite actor or producer in the post!
The #participatory hashtag
Think: the stuff Jimmy Fallon asks you about every week
Practice: Have you ever thought about doing something but weren’t sure if it would turn out well?  Tell us your biggest #WhatIf…  If you’re working towards it, what risks are you taking to get there?  If not, what’s stopping you?
The #trendingmovements hashtag
Think: the stuff that makes the news
Practice: What’s something that’s happened recently that moves you?  What do you wish you were more informed on?  Speak out to the community of your choice.  Voice an opinion on a topic or ask a question to learn more about a movement.
The #Event2015 hashtag
Think: the stuff that happens on a timeline
Practice: Guess what time of year it is?  You got it: #MarchMadness.  Post your predictions, confusions, or team fanaticism on Twitter or Instagram.  Bonus points: use up those characters by tagging your favorite players and teams.
The #justkindoftalkingtomyselfnow hashtag
Think: the stuff you wonder if other people actually care about
Practice: How are you feeling about your developing skill at hashtagging?  Good and empowered or nervous and confused?  You can always #justletitalloutsister, and we’ll be there to support you along the way.  And don’t worry—learning the ropes of social media can be tough. #istillgetmixedupsometimestoo
Protip: Include #bSmart in all of your practice tweets and Instagram posts this week to share how you’ve been empowered with your new skill and we’ll favorite and retweet you to the #bSmartCommunity!


Caroline Liu is a freshman and Quest Scholar at Wesleyan University.  In addition to writing for bSmart Guide, she is a National Contributor for Spoon University and Director of Social Media for The Prospect.  Find her on Twitter @caroqliu.


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