A little bit history on Hashtag Day, it was on 23 August 2007, Twitter user Chris Messina Tweeted a suggestion to use the # symbol to group conversations on the platform. This marked the birth of the hashtag, and made August 23 #HashtagDay.
Once you’ve started using Twitter, you’ll start to see hashtags all over. The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet, and can help categorize Tweets and find others like it. Hashtags have continued to play a role in helping people join important conversations. By using hashtags, people around the world have made Twitter their microphone, shaped culture, and changed the world.
Three things hashtags gave Malaysia in 2020
The popular hashtags show the very different ways Malaysians use Twitter, and what they are looking for in how they use the platform.
1. A chance to rally the community
As the top hashtags in Malaysia show, #COVID19 and related hashtags were at the top of everyone’s minds. But it wasn’t just about the pandemic – Malaysians were also using powerful messages to rally each other and help everyone to get by.
When COVID-19 happened, many lives were disrupted and people had to adapt to a new way of living. Inspirational and unifying hashtags like #kitajagakita galvanised the Malaysian community on Twitter, where people shared Tweets of encouragement for small businesses and frontline workers. Even instructional hashtags like #stayathome (#dudukrumah) became places for people to bond over their shared experiences.
Through repeating these hashtags across Tweets and seeing them across their Timelines, these sayings became inspirational parts of everyday life, helping people to remember them and apply them. As such, Malaysians on Twitter helped one another to get through COVID-19 together.
2. A chance for people to show their idols support
When your favorite artist is based in another country, it’s important to show your support and let them know that your fan community is following from overseas. Hashtags also helps fans of these groups make connections and deepen their friendships by making it easier to find fan communities.
From BTS (@bts_bighit) to EXO (@weareoneEXO), GOT7 (@GOT7Official) to TWICE (@JYPETWICE), Malaysians made their love for their favorite artists, and the importance of their favorites to their lives, known.
These popular fan communities and their hashtags also spawned other popular hashtags, such as #weareoneEXO, where EXO’s fans can easily share fan edits or drawings of their idols.
3. A chance to ignite important conversations
Hashtags can help to organize conversations by issue, and help people find out more about the issues that are most important to them on Twitter. 2020 was another important milestone in the global fight against discrimination and equality. While global hashtags related to these movements were also popular in Malaysia, Malaysians also used hashtags from local movements as well.
#UninstallHatred, started by Hussamuddin Yaacub as part of “Uninstall Hatred and Reboot Malaysia,” called for Malaysians to remove hateful and intolerant thinking in order to make a multicultural and vibrant Malaysia a reality.
#migranjugamanusia also became an important local conversation as people on Twitter discussed, debated, and reflected on racism in Malaysia, and how migrants and minorities in the country deserve to be treated better.
Using hashtags on Twitter
People connect every day using hashtags, for all types of hashtags. Hashtags can help you connect to the largest conversations, spanning everyone on Twitter across multiple continents; hashtags can also help to build deep connections to some of the focused and specialized communities on Twitter. Hashtags can be important social movements, but can also be fun activities and challenges to connect you to other people that share your same hobbies and interests.
Here are the top 10 hashtags in Malaysia thus far in 2020:
Earlier this year, Malaysians used Twitter as a pasar malam, championing their favorite small businesses and pasar malam merchants during a time when they were not able to gather physically for these markets. Using Twitter threads and #pasarmalam, Malaysians on Twitter were able to help raise awareness of small online shops and helped these business owners continue operating despite adversity.
Many Malaysians Tweeted or joined threads using the #pasarmalam hashtag, where they shared their favorite pasar malam businesses. Businesses could also join these threads themselves by replying to the threads. Through these pasar malam substitutes, many small businesses were able to find ways to existing and even new customers, and keep this tradition alive.
Childhood favorite cartoon Sailor Moon also trended on Twitter as part of the #sailormoonredraw hashtag challenge, which encouraged amateur and budding artists from across the world to recreate a still from the famous series. The hashtag itself showed the global nature of how hashtags work, starting among Japanese fan artists before spreading to global prominence, with artists from all countries adding their own versions.
For artists, participating in #sailormoonredraw was a fun way to draw with a specific prompt and participate in the huge conversation on Twitter; it also helped to elevate these artists’ work to new audiences, and potentially new fans. In Malaysia, one such example was artist Catty Ning (@CattyNing), who joined the #sailormoonredraw hashtag, spreading her art and passion to people on Twitter.
How to use hashtags
To use the hashtag, just use the # symbol before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in your Tweet. In addition, here are some practical do’s and don’ts to make a great hashtag:
● Make it short, distinct, and easy to remember. Avoid typos to make your Tweet discoverable.
● Think of witty or relatable hashtags to give people a reason to use and respond to it.
● Consistently use your hashtag as you Tweet for recall and to increase its visibility and exposure.
● Ask your friends and followers to use your hashtag.
● Over-hashtag. One to two relevant hashtags per Tweet is the sweet spot. Remember: character count
● Use all CAPS. Unless it’s an acronym, this feels like shouting and also affects readability. Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end. Words of wisdom: remember to only use hashtags in Tweets relevant to the topic and don’t #spam #with #hashtags or overuse the # in a single Tweet. Happy #HashtagDay!