media update’s Jenna Cook takes a look at the potential of #HashtagActivism.

#HashtagActivism is the act of showing support for a cause on social media. The hashtag is a symbol synonymous with rants on social media, millennials and even the #digirati. And at first glance, you might be wondering what a simple metadata tag can do for the world. The answer is fairly simple – it has the potential to change that world.

The hashtag was first used by the social media platform Twitter to draw attention to trending topics and news. Since then, it has become the prelude to almost every important conversation on multiple social media platforms.

And while there is still speculation about the effectiveness of the symbol as a tool for activism – it acts as an integral element in the way people view social injustices.

Here are three reasons why you should advocate #HashtagActivism on social media:

1. #HashtagActivism raises awareness on social issues

The hashtag has been an integral part in sparking conversation among millions of daily users on social media. And while hashtags may come and go, the impact that they create has been known to cause real change.

The transition of online conversation into real world impact can be seen in a multitude of hashtag inspired campaigns. These hashtags are a series of short and simple words or phrases that relate to a certain trend or issue.

For example, #BringBackOurGirls was the hashtag created in 2014 to campaign for the freedom of more than 200 young women who were abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The hashtag is short but descriptive of the social injustice.

Although many of the girls are still held captive by Boko Haram, #HashtagActivism was a major step forward. Celebrities, politicians and even the Pope took to social media to use the movement’s hashtag.

This not only raised awareness but also put pressure on the Nigerian government to locate and safely return the girls.

2. #HashtagActivisim provides an alternative platform to traditional media

#HashtagActivism is a unique and powerful way for people to amplify their voices using social media. This means having an opinion that is unique to the view of larger news and media agencies.

Hashtags have been known to highlight and facilitate social movements like the #MarchForOurLives campaign. The movement was organised and independently covered by students who survived the Parkland school shooting in February.

The campaign inspired activists around the world to take to the streets and protest against gun violence in schools. And, most notably, the voices and testimonials of activists are heard without the need for traditional news agencies.

These hashtag campaigns are usually sparked independently on social media – before it has even caught the attention of news agencies. In fact, many of these news agencies have dedicated systems in place to track trending hashtags on social media.

3. #HashtagActivism creates social movements on a global scale

The hashtag symbol is used over 125 million times a day on Twitter alone. This means that, every single day, millions of social media users are interacting with a hashtag by tweeting, retweeting or liking a tweet.

Hashtags have the potential to unite people from all over the world with a common goal or idea. An example of this is #BlackLivesMatter. This hashtag campaign is based on recognising the significant contributions of the black community while creating a diverse and fair community for all.

Uniting people who believe in a similar cause creates a powerful and deliberate call for social change – and ‘action’ is the most ideal outcome for any hashtag campaign.

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Leveraging #HashtagActivism is not the only PR trend to look out for. Learn more by reading our article, What does the future of PR look like?
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy