5 Fun ways to use hashtags

How many of you know what hashtags are?  How many of you care?  If I would have answered those questions two months ago I would have said  (1) Annoying (2) No.  However, I’m starting to change my mind on hashtags because, if used well, they can be super helpful.  Granted most times hashtags are used like an extra witty comment after a post so people can pretend their interesting, but not always.

Let me give you a brief definition of a hashtag taken from SmallBizTrends.com “A hashtag is a label for content. It helps others who are interested in a certain topic, quickly find content on that same topic.”  You may have seen them on your favorite TV shows in the bottom left or right corner #psych #thewalkingdead #nerdist, etc.

On certain Social Media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest to name a few.  Their purpose, basically, is to serve as a link to specific topics.  For example if you were blown away by the Breaking Bad finale and you use twitter you could say something like “OMG Totes the Best Finale Ever #breakingbadfinale.”  Hopefully you wouldn’t, but you could.  Once your tweet goes live your hashtag #breakingbadfinale will turn into a link that if clicked will display every other tweet with the same hashtag.  Honestly, I don’t care so much about what a bunch of random strangers have to say about the Breaking Bad finale, but this concept has a lot of cool applications.  Here are five I’ve thought of,  I’m sure you have some cooler ones!

Photo / Video Scavenger Hunts

Hashtags are a perfect way to setup or execute a photo scavenger hunt.

There are two types of hunts I do: (1) reverse photo scavenger hunts (2) regular old paper list scavenger hunts.  Let me break down how hashtags can be used in each circumstance.

  • Reverse Scavenger Hunts – First the scavenger hunt coordinator, instead of making a list goes out with some friends and takes photos around the scavenger hunt area.  Photos can be taken anywhere but it’s best if they are recognizable locations to your audience.  Each photo should require people on the hunt to do specific activities or poses but allow for a “creative take.”  As you are going around taking these photos make sure to give them a hashtag, let’s say #photoscavengerhuntclues (make it better than that).  When the hunt begins give your kids the hashtag to search on Instagram and an hour to do as many of the photos as possible.  Make sure to give each group that goes out a specific hashtag such as #scavengerteam1 #scavengerteam2 #scavengerteam3 (again, do better).  This will make it easier to view all team  photos at the end of the hunt.
  • Paper List Scavenger Hunt – Every team gets the same list but each list has a different hashtag written on top #scavengerteam1 #scavengerteam2 etc.  This is the hashtag they will add to their photos as they take them.  This option may be better than the reverse because it takes less prep time and it’s easier to keep the list secret.

A couple things to remember when doing this.  First, If your kids follow your Instagram it may be good to make a separate private Instagram for Scavenger Hunts so they don’t see what you’re doing and get a head start and deny all people’s attempt to follow you. Second, Make sure your hashtags are unique.  Search them out on Instagram before you create them so you’re not getting other peoples photos when you’re trying to look at your groups.  Finally, a good resource to view all the photos after an event is Eventstagr.am.  Make sure to set that up prior to your event.  All you have to do is add your hashtags to Eventstagram and it does the rest.

Weddings or Events

Don’t spend money on disposables.

You don’t need a polaroid at every table #hipster.  Join the growing trend of hash tagging your wedding.  On each table leave a card with your hashtag to let the savvy ones in your group take photos for you to enjoy later.  Make sure you make your hashtag personal enough that others wouldn’t use it.  Bethany and I could have used #bcsquared1218 or #bandb121810.  Search for the hashtags in Instagram and Twitter and see what people said and saw!  An awesome more in depth walkthrough can be found here.

For friends with dumb phones

My friend Kendra gave me a great idea!

Her friend does not have a smart phone.  She’s apparently stuck in the early 00′s.  Anyways, her friends who all live in the now took it upon themselves to create a friendship hashtag, something like #youneedsasmartphone.  Whenever they get together they take photos with that specific hashtag.  Now whenever her friend gets their act together she can look through all the fun photos that have taken throughout the years by looking for her hashtag.  How fun is that?

Jumping on Trends / Movements

Sometimes talk show hosts, tv shows, non-profits will start a hashtag challenging people to do something and document it, let’s say #socialhashmovement.

If you want to see how creative other people are search the hashtag or create it yourself and click it.  It’s fun to be united on silly or serious things and seeing that you’re part of something bigger.  Jimmy Fallon does new hashtags weekly if you want a place to start.

Connecting with people

What good is social media if you can’t connect to people.

I recently re-joined the world of Instagram after a long absence because Bethany loves Instagram and I figured this would be a good way we could connect.  Honestly, this is where I learned of hashtags.  Every once and awhile I’ll use a common hashtag for example: #mansbestfriend #cubiclelife #diy.  Half of the fun of me doing this is clicking on that hashtag once it’s posted and seeing what other people have posted on similar topics.  Some people do very creative things that get my creative juice flowing.  Who knows you may even make a friend out of following someone.  If Craiglist “Missed Connections” are any indication we are wired to connect even under unique circumstances.

I want to hear from you.  Do you use hashtags?  Do you have some cooler uses that I did not list?  I’d truly enjoy hearing them.

Have a wonderful Day,

repost from: http://www.brycecooley.com

Bryce Cooley
I've been doing some form of ministry since 2000. For 13 years I was involved in the youth ministry at Cordova Neighborhood Church as everything from youth intern to youth pastor. God has led me and my lovely wife Bethany to Church of the Foothills where I currently reside as the Digital Publishing Coordinator. I'm excited to see where God leads my wife and I.