6 Influential Hashtag Movements Across the World
Who would have thought that the humble pound sign (yes, that’s what it was called!) would one day transform the way we use social media? Today, a #hashtag is something we take for granted and we don’t think twice before adding several relevant hashtags to our posts. But ever wondered what these hashtags are and the kind of significance they carry? Here’s a tiny peek into history:
On August 23rd, 2007, Chris Messina tweeted that the Pound sign should be used to combine all related tweets. He used the term “hashtag” in reference to the pound signs more widely used nickname, the octothorpe. Some users were skeptical of his suggestion, but it quickly gained popularity as a means to organize tweets and make them simpler to find. Millions of people use hashtags to express their opinions and personal experiences on various topics nowadays. Although hashtags were initially created to organize tweets, they have since evolved into an important marketing and branding tools. Chris Messina created hashtags, which have revolutionized the way we communicate on social media.
Hashtags today are not only used as tools to promote, organize and draw attention, they have also become a powerful medium of #digitalactivism. To further demonstrate the power of the hashtag, here’s a quick run through on some of the most transformative hashtag movements in recent times. Read on
Top Social Media hashtags Movements
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected people’s life all across the world. The hashtag #Coronavirus has been used in more posts than any other in 2020, and this trend is continuing. This hashtag was first used in December 2019 to track the situation in China, but it only really started to catch on in March 2020. When COVID-19 hit the majority of the world’s nations, hashtags swiftly gained popularity on social media sites like Twitter. It was observed that 5.3 million people were chatting about the coronavirus and COVID-19 on Facebook, over 600 million tweets about it, and approximately 30 million posts on Instagram using this hashtag.
Greta Thunberg, then 15 years old, stood in front of the Swedish parliament every day for three weeks as a part of the #FridaysForFuture protest, which was started in August 2018 in response to the lack of action being taken to address the climate crisis. She shared what she was doing on Twitter and Instagram, and it quickly went viral. Greta decided on September 8th to continue her strike every Friday until Swedish policies offered a safe course well below 2 degrees Celsius or in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Since then, a global movement of kids and adults have been protesting outside their local governments’ buildings under the hashtags #FridaysForFuture and #ClimateStrike.
The BroadwayBlack.com editor-in-chief April Reign created the hashtag #OscarSoWhite in response to the 2016 Oscar nominees. All 20 actors nominated for lead and supportive roles in that year’s films were white, despite the fact that several of those films had African American actors who earned both guild accolades and critical acclaim. The tweet triggered a discussion about representation, diversity, and racism in the movie business. This three word hashtag spurred an otherwise blinkered industry to introspect and move towards inclusivity. Now that’s some feat!
This was one of the most well-known hashtag campaigns ever! Together, Disney and the Make-A-Wish Foundation ran one of the most touching Twitter campaigns. Disney asked its viewers to post photos of themselves wearing Mickey Mouse ears. All they had to do was tweet it using the hashtag #ShareYourEars. Disney pledged to donate $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for each post. The campaign quickly became popular because it was for such a good purpose. Everyone took part in the campaign, from celebrities to philanthropists and more than $1 million was raised. Later, Disney doubled the sum and gave the charity $2 million.
Participating in ridiculous challenges to gain social media clout has become commonplace. The Cinnamon Challenge was one such outlandish challenge! The challenge expanded to Twitter even though it started on YouTube, like most things do. For this challenge, competitors had 60 seconds to finish a whole tablespoon of cinnamon without any beverage. The cinnamon challenge was not without controversy, despite its popularity. Choking and respiratory failure are two health issues that can arise from swallowing cinnamon dry. Many participants who attempted the challenge had to be rushed to hospitals. Therefore, it’s wise to exercise caution and do some prior research before following trends blindly.
The Swedish-born hashtag #flygskam is another significant hashtag. Its English equivalent is “flight shame.” The idea is straightforward: take a train or other mode of transportation that produces less CO2 than an airplane. The nation’s domestic air traffic declined by 9% in 2019. Just over 40 million passengers travelled via its 10 airports in total that year, down from 42 million in 2018.
All of this was triggered especially after the Swedish singer- Staffan Lindberg announced his intention to stop flying. It has since grown in popularity amid increasing concerns about climate change, introducing the term “flygskam,” or “flight shame,” to the English language. Since the term’s inception, practically all short-haul business trips have been prohibited by Klarna, a fintech corporation with its headquarters in Stockholm. In a similar vein, lengthy air travel is not recommended.
A special mention to two additional hashtags that still carry relevance till date:
You’ve probably seen the hashtag #MeToo on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. This initiative began as a means for victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual bullying to connect and share their experiences. It has grown into a major social movement as it provided a voice to the ones who have been oppressed in the past. The movement has given survivors a sense of support while simultaneously igniting a national and international dialogue about the pervasive problems associated with harassment and assault.
On May 25, an African American man named George Floyd, 46, died after choking beneath the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis, setting off protests that are still going on today. For eight minutes and forty-six seconds, Floyd was restrained. Due to the sudden and the most recent wave of protests that have been followed, it has yet again gathered people in numbers.
The bottom line
It can evidently be seen that hashtags are not only an aspect that gathers opinions or discussions along, but it carries a profound potential to impact people and societies around the globe. So whether it’s about a certain campaign that’s been popular lately or even a small advertisement of your favourite actor’s upcoming TV series- hashtags play a significant role in immortalizing it for us.
Want to know how to leverage the right hashtags for your brand? #connectwithus. You see what we did there?
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