Hashtag at 10: Five things you can tell about Indians from the hashtags they trend
No surprises here. We love our sports, and to discuss politics.
If the age of internet has given a new lease of life to something, it is the hashtag. Once used to denote the number sign or the American pound sign, the hashtag is now synonymous with social media.
On Wednesday, the hashtag celebrated its tenth birthday. In these ten years, it has spread everywhere, the most easy way to navigate social media conversations. From Twitter, it has spread to Facebook and Instagram.
In fact, its use has become so acceptable that it has passed into spoken language. #NoFilter, #ThrowbackThursday or #NowPlaying have passed from being mere hashtags into everyday talk, and honestly, all of us have that one friend who says Hashtag Goals or Hashtag Blessed out loud.
A look at Twitter's India reports from 2013 to 2016 suggests that there are certain kinds of hashtags that Indian Twitter love to trend. Not surprisingly, these reflect the conversations on the social media platform that Indians are really interested or invested in.
Here's what we can tell about India's interests from the five kinds of hashtags that trend on Twitter:
1. We are news junkies
Of course, Twitter is inextricably linked with news. Whatever makes headline, makes Twitter trends list as well.
In 2013, #AfzalGuru and #Tejpal were top news trends, while in 2014 interest peaked in #MH370 and #KashmirFloods. Last year's #surgicalstrike and #JNU conflict made it to the top ten Twitter hashtags as well.
2. We love to hashtag goals -- or cricket wickets
Indians on Twitter seem to dig sports -- for the last three years, the top Twitter trend was sports-related. Before every big cricket match, a hashtag starts trending. In 2016, #IndvsPak and #IndvsAus were the biggest cricket conversations. IPL had social media agog, as it trended in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Other sporting events also excited interests. #Rio2016 was the top hashtag in India last year, as well as globally. "The hashtag united the country in this moment of national prominence and the Tweets reflected the pride, thrill and joy of Indians everywhere as Indian athletes won medals at the Olympics and received well-deserved cheers on the platform," says the Twitter report.
In 2013, #ThankYouSachin trended after the cricket legend announced his retirement while #PVSindhu trended last year after winning the silver Olympic medal.
3. Political chit-chat and elections give us life
Indias love to talk politics so it's not a surprise that election results and trends were reflected on Twitter as well. In 2013, in the run-up to the general elections, social-media savvy Narendra Modi and his main opponent Rahul Gandhi were already trending hashtags, but #DelhiWantsAAP had made an entry.
In 2014, AAP figured in two of the top ten trends: #MufflerMan to describe Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and #QuitAAP that reflected outrage against the party. 2015's #BiharElections were also a much-talked about Twitter conversation.
4. And, of course, Bollywood
Online fan clubs were one of the early adopters of Twitter, with #WeLoveSRK and #Akshay2000 crore trending in 2013. In 2015, #DDLJ20years was one of the top five hashtags, starting the trend of movie anniversaries being celebrated on Twitter.
However, sport-related hashtags trumped movie hashtags quite squarely.
5. The government's got its Twitter game on
India's ruling party is backed by a well-oiled, savvy social media machinery. After the NDA came to power, it made a concerted effort to tie up wit Twitter to promote some of its government schemes. In 2016, #MakeInIndia was a trending hashtag, while in 2015 the PM's well-promoted #SelfieWithDaughter campaign initiated a lot of public participation.