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The 2021 Guide to Hashtag Activism: #WhyHashTag Activism Matters

Hashtag activism is a form of online activism that uses hashtags to create awareness and promote social change. Hashtags are used on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. The use of hashtags has been traced back to the early 2000s, when Twitter first introduced them in 2007.

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Why Use Hashtag Activism?

Social media users often use hashtags because it saves time by searching for posts with specific words or phrases.

This has enabled activists to raise awareness about their causes on topics that may not have otherwise received much attention from the general public, including climate change, police brutality, and Black Lives Matter. Activists can also use hashtags to focus their efforts around an achievable goal while simultaneously increasing visibility for other social justice.

The term was coined by activist, author, and public speaker Kelly Cogswell in 2013 when she published her book #Activism: How to Protest Intelligently. The term refers to efforts made through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook rather than formal protests or demonstrations.

Cogswell’s definition for hashtag activism includes using hashtags to create trends on social media platforms, creating memes or graphics related to the said issue, retweeting content from others related to the said issue, among other things.

Hashtag activism

How to utilize Hashtag Activism

It’s easy to do, and you can get a lot done from your phone! Follow these steps to have an impactful hashtag campaign.

1) Pick a hashtag: your favorite trending topic or one that reflects what you want to discuss. For example, #endgunviolence or #protectthesurfaceofearth

2) Create a catchy slogan for your cause

3) Post photos on Instagram with the hashtag

4) Tweet about it multiple times

5) Add it to Facebook

6) Share on other social media platforms such as Pinterest

7) Invite people who support your cause by tagging them in posts

8 ) Use the hashtag in conversation so more people will notice it

The hashtag activism movement is not slowing down

There is no lack of hashtags to be found on Twitter; however, the effectiveness of these movements can vary. For example, #metoo took off because there was already an established network of people with similar experiences ready to speak out about their own stories.

Other times, like when students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School created #neveragain after the Parkland shooting in February 2018 (a year ago), they had a small group of supporters but used social media to amplify their message.

The hashtag activism movement is the new way to get your voice heard. The first step in this process is finding a hashtag that resonates with you and then using it as often as possible, ideally daily.

Hashtag activism explained

What Does Hashtag Activism promote

Hashtag activism provides an outlet for people passionate about a cause but don’t have time or money to donate.

It also promotes discussion on trending topics which can lead to change. If you want to take action on something that matters deeply to you without having any prior experience or degree, this might be just what you’re looking for!

In recent years, the power of social media has been increasingly recognized for its ability to mobilize a wide variety of activists. One form of activism that is becoming more and more popular is hashtag activism.

As hashtags gain momentum, they become powerful tools for those who wish to voice their opinions publicly without any journalistic background or expertise in journalism. For this reason, it’s essential for people who use these tools responsibly so as not to undermine other journalists’ work by presenting false information or misleading facts about current events.

Examples of hashtag activism


Kony2012 was one of the most significant hashtag movements, with over 2 million followers on Twitter alone. Hashtags have been used for movements such as #BringBackOurGirls, in which more than 1 million people tweeted about it, spreading awareness across the world.

Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), like many Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), has also used social media to raise money for its projects through popular hashtag campaigns. Not only are they using simple hashtags, including well-known platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, but they have also made use of more sophisticated hashtags such as the PAPA campaign.

  • This multifaceted hashtag movement included different pictures, videos, and websites for PAC to spread awareness about its work in West Africa.
  • They used several platforms, including Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook, each platform being used for different purposes.

The first step towards implementing a successful social media charity campaign is to ensure that platforms are available for the NGO’s message to be heard. Venues can include Facebook groups, Twitter followers, or Instagram accounts. However, it takes more than just having an account on one of these sites; you have to make sure your page has content that people will want to consume.

In July 2014, PAC made use of the website PACIFIC. Their interactive site portrays their work to spread awareness about malaria and educate people on preventing it. The campaign was successful because it targeted the right audience with a compelling message and images that spoke directly to them.

When launching a hashtag campaign, you have to be careful not to constrain yourself too tightly when deciding upon your wording. This means making sure that you are able for your ideas, concepts, hashtags, or goals will translate well into different platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.

The PEPPA Campaign

which ran from May-August 2014, aimed to raise awareness of cholera prevention in Africa through educational messages based on the PAC public health model. The hashtag #PEPPA2014 was used to spread awareness with no set objectives or goals, but rather the overall goal of raising awareness about cholera prevention throughout Africa and making sure that it is accessible to those who need it most.

  • PAPA from June 2014-January 2015 focuses on 4 main pillars to raise funds for PAC: Photo, Article, People, and ATCO.
  • It also utilized various hashtags, including #PAPA1415, an Instagram-based campaign focused on showcasing people’s photos depicting their involvement in PAC activities and helping them publicize their amazing work across social media networks;
  • #PACGala2015;#PACFashionRunway2014; and #PACILove2014.

This campaign aimed to spread awareness about the work that PAC does in West Africa and make sure that they have a fabulous presence on social media networks. #PAPA1415 was used to coordinate photos through Instagram of people involved with PAC activities, such as volunteers, participants, or anyone interested in supporting PAC’s efforts.

This creates an excellent image for the general public to see what goes on inside PAC and makes them aware of their existence and good things throughout Africa.

For each tag, there is an intended purpose behind it. For example, PEPPA focuses on using its Twitter account to raise awareness by posting educational messages about cholera prevention in Africa. They also want people to retweet their messages to reach the most significant number of people possible. They are making sure that these messages are public and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

On the other hand, PAPA is a hashtag explicitly used for Instagram. It allows users to use photos to spread awareness about PAC activities and showcase what they do throughout Africa.

Overall this social media campaign has been very successful at raising awareness about malaria across Africa through the utilization of hashtags and their platforms on Twitter and Facebook or, more recently, Instagram. It is because organizations such as PAC using inspirational images, stories, and videos that draw attention from across the globe.

This then leads individuals who have never heard of PAC’s work to start following them on their social media accounts and start spreading awareness themselves; this is one of many reasons why campaigns such as PAPA and #PEPPA2014 are effective.

#PACFashionRunway2014; #PACGala2015; #PACILove2014

A campaign started by PAC in June 2014 shows how they used Twitter for their second campaign, ‘PEppa.’

  • They used various hashtags to promote upcoming events and coordinate with staff or partners to share important information about these events.
  • It also caters to everyone who has volunteered at PAC, which can be done through a two-part tweet: first, you would put ‘Volunteer’ and then input your name and location, followed by the hashtag #Volunteer.
  • It also allows users to share personal stories of how they became involved with PAC as well as show their support for future events that are being held.

PAC’s Twitter account also uses hashtags to spread awareness about cholera prevention or encourage people to do a fundraiser on their behalf to raise money towards malaria prevention in Africa. Another use would be during significant events such as Fashion Shows, where they will have the event tagged so people can feel inspired or informed about what goes on inside PAC.

This then brings more attention from outside parties who were not previously interested in becoming involved but are now seeing just how many good things are happening at PAC across Africa, which then motivates them to become involved.

PAC’s Twitter account does an amazing job at using hashtags to spread awareness about what they do as well as publicize their events which brings more attention and traffic to their page, allowing people with a passion for Africa or those who are skeptical of the work done, to see these inspiring campaigns and take action towards spreading awareness across social media networks. #PEPPA2014; #PEppa


Hashtag activism has become a powerful tool for social movements to amplify their message and get it in front of more people. We all must do our part by supporting these causes, raising awareness, and sharing the hashtag with others on Twitter or Instagram. By doing this, you are not only helping your favorite cause but also educating yourself on societal issues so that you can make informed decisions about which organizations deserve your time and money.

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