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Hashtag: Where Did This #phenomenon Begin and Why Do We #love it (but only on Twitter)?

Hashtag: Where Did This #phenomenon Begin and Why Do We #love it (but only on Twitter)?

The very first hashtag EVER was #barcamp by Chris Messina. Due to this initial successful tryout (against the Twitter boss‘s wishes) we now see hashtags as the first place to find information on the latest news and events on a global scale. Things happen on Twitter through hashtags faster than breaking news programs are able to catch them—the result being that Twitter is now a primary resource for many news stations.

Messina was inspired by Flickr tags to try to get the trend started on Twitter. As a short form of communication, tags/hashtags seemed like a good way of organizing brief exchanges and sharing. And he was right.

From humble beginnings, the hashtag has come to dominate social media platform Twitter. Back in 2009, hashtags were initially talked about as “Twitter groupings”. Four years on, we don’t need that explanation any more.

Hashtag your heart out

The capabilities of hashtags go beyond simple categorising information and discussing events. Hashtags also convey complex emotional responses, context and language styles. As your Twitter profile becomes more and more a part of your personal and professional identity, your choices of hashtags are interpreted by the public as part of your character. This is also true of corporate accounts (and if you weren’t there to see it happen in Twitter, you can now search for hundreds of articles telling you why every company now needs a Pinterest account).

The hashtag is the “smiley” that Twitter doesn’t have. With hastags, you don’t need to scroll through a list to choose the image best representing your emotional state. You can simply invent it on the spot, and combine multiple complex feelings as well as situational context

#MondayMornings #coffee #power

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If you’re short on inspiration, you can also choose from a list of trending or common hashtags. It’s also a pretty efficient way of keeping up with new abbreviations and trending invented words. This all matters a hell of a lot if you work in marketing.

#TGIF

Hashtag hot gossip

The hashtag is a quick route to get a discussion going with anyone in the world on a topic. It is an open and free environment in 140 characters. It can also open the door to Twitter wars: many people have sat on the sidelines watching in glee as Miley Cyrus and Sinead O’Connor sparred over women’s roles in the entertainment (there it is: I finally mentioned Miley Cyrus in an article). Although deep down we suspect that all the big Twitter accounts are run by a few PR professionals, it’s still kind of exciting to think we may be directly communicating with names that we would otherwise have absolutely no way of connecting with at all.

#LouisCK #inappropriate #gottaloveit

Reminder: do not to believe a lot of what goes around on Twitter before proper news reporting has actually been done on it. And beware of fake accounts. But do watch a few parody accounts—they can be golden (e.g. Mundane Bond).

mundane-bond-twitter
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    Hashtag group hug

    Community in a fast-moving tech universe is an addiction. This is obvious from people’s need to share and connect on the many social media platforms available to them. Twitter is often quoted as the most narcissist-encouraging of these platforms.

    #badhair #ugly #hugme #tears

    Whilst it is a method of reaching out to the people, it’s also an invitation for trolls to magnify your plight with sarcasm and often plain cruelty.

    Hashtag lead balloons

    1) Hashtag integration with G+ (auto-generated)

    2) Facebook (not taking off so fast)

    Despite the hashtag culture on Twitter, it has not spread to Facebook and Google+ in the same manner. G+ took the approach of integrating hashtags (i.e. when you post, G+ adds a hashtag on the top right automatically, so your post is categorised for you). Facebook, like Twitter, allows you to attach the hashtag yourself. Perhaps what’s going wrong with Facebook is that it was established without hashtags in the early days. There’s also the issue that if you put a hashtag on your post, it becomes publicly visible to anyone clicking on that hashtag. Facebook is highly personal. Twitter is public and about quickfire info sharing. What is Google+? Perhaps until it develops a clear identity the hashtag will remain an ambiguous character.

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    Hashtag house rules:

    If you want your hashtagged information to be popular rather than spammy, this flowchart explicitly tells you how to do it.

     

    hashtag

      I <3 hashtags

      Hashtags bring out the ordinary in the most seemingly unreachable of people. There is some comfort to be had knowing that The Rock is having a caramel frappucino and damn, is it tasty this morning #winning (note: that was 100% invented by me).

      Here’s an example of “how not to” and “how to” hashtag:

      how-not-to-hashtag
        how-to-hashtag
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          Hashtags are loved because of how easy they are to apply (for users), and how funny it can be to read the messages of those who have gotten it completely wrong (for the observers). The famous YouTube sketch with Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon says it all.

          Using #hashtags makes you #cool.

          Complaining about #hashtags makes you #cool.

          It’s a win/win!

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          Last Updated on January 15, 2021

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

          The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

          Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

          Posture

          First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

          • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
          • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
          • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
          • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

          All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

          Facial Expressions

          Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

          • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
          • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
          • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

          If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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          1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

          A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

          The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

          This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

          2. Relax Your Face

          New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

          The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

          To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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          3. Improve Your Eye Contact

          Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

          The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

          To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

          3. Smile More

          There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

          Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

          4. Hand Gestures

          Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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          It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

          5. Enhance Your Handshake

          In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

          “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

          It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

          6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

          As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

          Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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          Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

          Final Takeaways

          Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

          If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

          More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

          Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

          Reference

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