For the few still unfamiliar with hashtags, Twitter added the feature in 2007 as a way for users to group their posts with others within the confines of their 140 character post limit. Other social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have since adopted the hashtag, and it’s become an integral part of online culture. As such, there’s no exclusivity with who can or can’t use hashtags, with users ranging from sports fans banding together to post about their team’s latest results, to optimistic social media users aiming to “go viral”.
Often, hashtags are left relatively alone; with small user groups using them to archive a back-catalogue of blog posts or Instagram photos, however occasionally a hashtag will go viral.
So what is going viral?
Going viral refers to the phenomenon of an online post, be it text or other media based, gaining significant momentum and spreading like wildfire all over the internet, and often gaining attention on televised news programs. For the majority posters of the original content, this is the desired outcome, as their post has now gained massive reach with minimal effort input. Often as well, brands will jump onto a rising hashtag to capitalise on its momentum, as was the case with Tesla, GlaxoSmithKline and General Electric jumping on board the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer, which promotes the increase of women in STEM positions.
*This hashtag was used to promote Susan Boyle’s album launch a few years back, and the syntax mess up resulted in a viral backfire