Communicative Functions of Hashtags

Open access


Despite the initial function of hashtags as tools for sorting and aggregating information according to topics, the social media currently witness a diversity of uses diverging from the initial purpose. The aim of this article is to investigate the communicative functions of hashtags through a combined approach of literature review, field study and case study. Different uses of hashtags were subjected to semantic analysis in order to disclose generalizable trends. As a result, ten communicative functions were identified: topic-marking, aggregation, socializing, excuse, irony, providing metadata, expressing attitudes, initiating movements, propaganda and brand marketing. These findings would help to better understand modern online discourse and to prove that hashtags are to be considered as a meaningful part of the message. A limitation of this study is its restricted volume.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • The ALS Association (n.d.) Progress Since the Ice Bucket Challenge. [Accessed 4.06.2017] Available from Internet:

  • Boellstorff. T. Nardi B. Pearce C. & Taylor T. L. (2012) Ethnography and Virtual Worlds. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Burns K. S. (2017) Social Media. ABC-CLIO: Santa Barbara/Denver USA.

  • Kaczmirek L. Mayr P. Vatrapu R. et al. (2014) Social Media Monitoring of the Campaigns for the 2013 German Bundestag Elections on Facebook and Twitter. GESIS working papers. [Accessed 21.03.2018] Available from Internet:

  • Lindgren S. (2017) Digital media & society. London: SAGE.

  • Lupton D. (2015) Digital Sociology. London and New York: Routledge.

  • Meikle G. (2016) Social Media. Routledge: New York and London.

  • Mohammad S. & Kiritchenko S. (2013) Using Hashtags to Capture Fine Emotion Categories from Tweets. Ottawa: National Research Council.

  • (15.10.2017) ‘Me Too’ Legislation Aims To Combat Sexual Harassment In Congress. [Accessed 6.04.2018] Available from Internet:

  • ODE Oxford Living Dictionaries

  • Rasmussen Neal D. (2012) Social Media for Academics. Oxford: CP Chandos Publishing.

  • Sloan L. & Quan-Haase A. (2017) The SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research Methods. London: SAGE.

  • Sweet L. (2009) Twitter theology: 5 Ways Twitter has changed my life and helped me be a better disciple of Jesus. [Accessed 26.05.2017] Available from Internet:

  • Van den Berg J.A. (2014) The story of the hashtag (#): A practical theological tracing of the hashtag (#) symbol on Twitter. HTS Theological Studies 70(1) аrt. 2706.

  • Van Dijck J. (2013) The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Wikstrom P. (2014) #srynotfunny: Communicative Functions of Hashtags on Twitter. SKY Journal of Linguistics Vol. 27 p. 127-152. [Accessed 10.04.2018] Available from Internet:

  • Zappavigna M. (2015) Searchable talk: the linguistic functions of hashtags. Social Semiotics 2015 Vol. 25 No. 3 274–291. Sydney: University of New South Wales

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 771 642 12
PDF Downloads 2157 2050 153