This paper aims to find out how people use hashtags as a medium of information retrieval and dissemination, and how they are used in social media tools, such as Instagram.
A quantitative question estimated the participants’ use of the hashtags during the workshop. Statistical data of the participants and their posts were collected from social network analysis tools. The posts that included the workshop’s designated hashtags were retrieved, recorded, coded and analysed to collect qualitative data.
In total, 74 (46 per cent) participants used the workshop’s hashtags to share posts, the retrieval of the hashtags declined by time and Google search engine retrieved the maximum results. It was found that a hashtag would be common when associated with descriptors, and that its use depends on its popularity, followers and its survival time. Finally, hashtags connect people, allow them to express their enthusiasm to reveal common interests and networks them through social media tools such as Instagram.
The research limitations were in relation to the participants’ demographic information, the non-identification of their gender and hashtags being misspelt.
The research project summarises the experiences that social media has made connecting easier through the right use of hashtags by providing 24/7 free feedback, the possibility to exchange ideas and by their involvement in promoting and organising events. It also indicates interaction among people sharing the same interest by retrieving subject-based hashtags.
When retrieving information related to hashtags, it is recommended that multi-retrieval systems, social media tools and search engines should be consulted and not depend on a solo system or tool. Future research is recommended in search for a multi-retrieval social media and search engine tool that standardises the use of hashtags and will retrieve information from different platforms.
This study has not received funding from any organisation in the public, commercial or nonprofit sectors. However, the researchers appreciate the support and facilities that their affiliation, the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, provided. The researchers also appreciate the obligation and enthusiasm of the sessions’ panel and organisers for devoting their time and efforts to the workshop.
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