Oh dear, a post that should have gone up much earlier! This is one of my blogs from any Future Learn Social Media Analysis course which got drafted up then lost in al Blaugust prep plans! I’ll be making a master page for all of the blogs on this topic shortly.
Whilst companies will carefully choose a hashtag to represent a particular campaign or event, which are designed to be instantly recognisable and usable. However, when an event happens and hashtags grow around it, how does one single hashtag come to represent a movement?
My course gave the example of hashtags used around the 2011 New Zealand Earthquake, in which Twitter users posted a variety of hashtags including #eqnz, #nzeq and #chch before settling on #eqnz as the dominant hashtag. (It also noted that several years later #chch is used to promote tourism in the area instead, an example of hashtags organically changing.) Another example that I personally was part of and used was in the wake of the EU referendum, where there were a variety of hashtags including #whathavewedone and #notinmyname which eventually settled into #wearethe48. In many cases, users would use multiple hashtags until one starts to dominate, perhaps because a particular news source, celebrity or Twitter influencer picks up on it, or perhaps by an organic process over time.