Social Media. Intimidating, I know. Today I’m going to talk about those things you’ve been seeing around, possibly using- hashtags. Aka the pound sign with a word after it. #hashtag 

What? – Hashtags collect what is called “metadata” (data about data- it summarizes basic information about data, which can make finding and working with particular instances of data easier). Basically, hashtags create easily searchable key words or phrases within posts on social media. Searching for a particular hashtag will show you all posts using that tag.

How? – Hashtags are created by using the hash symbol # followed by a string of alphanumeric characters. They CAN NOT include spaces or punctuation symbols. #nceca2016 works. #nceca-2016 or #nceca 2016 don’t.

When? – Use hashtags somewhat sparingly. Hashtags are commonly used to create #emphasis in postings, but they’re meant to be searchable links to similar media. Search #nceca2015 and you’ll find all of the posts from anyone who used the tag for our 2015 conference. Don’t overuse the hashtag. With great power comes great responsibility. A whole post of hashtags is just annoying.

Where? – Used on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, YouTube, Flickr, Kickstarter, Google+, blogs, and so many more.

Why? – COLLECT all your posts! CONNECT people with similar interests! SHARE stories and experiences! There’s even a new type of social involvement called “hashtag activism” (see #ALSicebucketchallenge)

-history break- hashtags formed out of the C computer programming language and got their big break online in 2007 during the San Diego forest fire. Facebook adopted them in 2013. —

To create a hashtag for an event or group:

1.Create a short, easy to remember (and spell) tag. Be clever, be reasonable.

For NCECA’s 50th anniversary project Across the Table, Across the Land, we looked at #acrossthetable and #tableandland

2.Search your desired hashtags.

Searching #acrossthetable showed that this tag was already in use- for people Instagramming pictures of the person eating across from them. For specific purposes like this, it’s best not to use a tag that’s already in use. #tableandland was unique so it was the winner!

3.Share the hashtag across social media, use it, ask others to use it.