Last week, the news broke that Facebook was finally joining a ton of other social media websites in allowing the use of #hashtags.  And that means ... what, exactly?

Well, if you've never used a hashtag before, fear not.  They look stranger than they are.  You're not required to use them, and you might go your whole life and never type one.  But once you learn about them, they can be really useful.


What is a Hashtag?

Hashtags -- or a word with the '#' before it -- really got started on Twitter.  Since they were useful, they've also popped up on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr and Google+.  And all they really do is help more people see your status updates.

You can use pre-existing hashtags that you see in other people's updates, or you can create your own.  Just remember, THERE ARE NO SPACES IN A HASHTAG.

  • INCORRECT:  #i love lake charles, #mcneese cowboys
  • CORRECT:  #ilovelakecharles, #mcneesecowboys

Okay, So How Do I Use Them?

For instance, if you're on Facebook and you're talking about the fun you had at the McNeese game last night, you could add #McNeese at the end of your update.  When you do, it should turn that hashtag into a little blue link.  Now, your status update will be lumped in with everyone who uses the hashtag #McNeese.  Anyone searching that hashtag can come across what you have to say..

Facebook

It's kind of your way to drop in on a big conversation, if you will. They're really a good way to get the word out about things, and it can help connect you with people who have the same interests as you.

Have an awesome recipe you're sharing on Facebook?  Add #recipe somewhere in your status update, and now everyone who uses that hashtag will see your recipe.  Got a great Saints picture you want to share?  Add #Saints to your update.

But it works the other way, too -- you can search for #Saints and read other people's reactions to the Saints, find out a score or look for Saints-related news.


Are There Any Rules?

Other than not putting spaces in a hashtag, no -- there are no rules.  You can put them at the beginning, middle or end of your status update.  You can use other people's hashtags, or you can also turn any word or phrase into your own hashtag. You could make every word in your status update into a hashtag, if you want.

For some people it can be an art or just a good way to make a joke. Hate Mondays?  So do other people:

So now you know.  Go forth and #hashtag yourself into a frenzy!