When the social media phenomenon of hashtags meets the psychological tsunami of “do good feel good,” the combination makes for a powerful triggering mechanism. It frequently spurs individuals to engage in volunteerism, donating, and becoming actively and personally involved in local, regional, national and international charitable movements. A brief history of how these two forces came to be and how the month of January provides a perfect time to for you to jump in and get your positive vibes on.
The Hashtag’s Humble Beginnings
A visit to the Independent and Mondo.com reveals that the humble hashtag (#) took root in 2007 as a single keyboard button replacing language. It serves as a universal call for connecting and sharing ideas, concepts, and causes. It has virtually taken over all social media platforms as a rallying cry, or symbol if you will, to accomplish a number of goals, among them: attracting attention, generating interest, creating visibility and giving traction to causes and social movements and well as establishing and building brand identity, advertising and marketing purposes. As pointed out in the Mondo.com article, the effective use of the humble hashtag is guided by these best practices. Hashtags should:
- Be memorable, unique and relevant. Each word should be capitalized for easy identification and understanding. An excellent recent example would be the hashtag used by T-Mobile during the 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros. The hashtag #HR4HR tied the theme of baseball home runs to raising money for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma relief—thus the tag served as a condensed message for “home runs for hurricane recovery.” For each home run hit, T-Mobile made a donation to hurricane relief efforts and encouraged its customers and social media users to join the cause and do the same.
- Some hashtags have proven to be more effective on different platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., depending on the number of tags and characters used in the hashtag. Effectiveness often relies on limited words to simplify and not overly complicate the message.
- Frequently puns and
play-on-wordhashtags are proven attention getters and extend the reach of the cause or movement.
- The best hashtags use action language and incorporate some type of call to action (CTA) and contribute to improved search engine optimization (SEO)—all critical when trying to rally support for products, goods and services, volunteerism, contributions and other charitable actions.
A few examples of current successful hashtags would include:
#TweetFromTheSeat - Charmin (a humorous twist on the effective use of social media and bathroom tissue while you are perched on the porcelain throne).
#OreoHorrorStories - Oreo (an effective use of horror movie parodies to push one of America’s favorite cookies.
Enter Do Good Feel Good
It’s called the “helper’s high.”
Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Tracy Alloways gives substance and form to the concept that when we humans do good, we inherently feel good. She points out that the act of volunteering or donating (time or money) releases a “feel good” chemical called Dopamine. Dopamine reinforces behaviors that make us feel good and psychologically encourage us to engage in similar and
When mottos become movements
If ever there were a case of how effectively a hashtag can be utilized for social change—to include volunteerism and donating as well as calls to action, it would be the recent cases of sexual harassment in Hollywood brought to light in a profile story by CNN. #MeToo has launched an examination into the historical use of the power men have had over women in the acting, music and entertainment industries and brought a critical focus to the topic with a great sense of urgency. Likewise, these examples from Yes Magazine (“12 Hashtags That Changed The World”) illustrate how hashtag mottos have resulted in social activism.
Balancing the discussion of hashtag mottos turning into
Even with that balancing perspective, it is clear to see that hashtags are being increasingly used to promote and advance any number of endeavors,
The holiday season, which normally prompts an uptick in volunteerism and charitable