#HashtagsThatMadeADifference - Like a Boss Girls

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Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.35.59 AMUsing social media is a great, inexpensive way to spread the word about your movement, but how do you attract the attention you want?

Try a #.

By adding a smart hashtag to your Twitter posts, you can help your followers track a conversation easily and add their own breaking news and sharp insights. Learning to use hashtags means you can both build a buzz, and identify—and connect with—the folks who are most interested in the cause you care about.

For inspiration, check out these stories behind five powerful hashtags that are creating change beyond the Internet. Find out how people around the world are using them to fight bullying, racial stereotyping, mental illness and more.  You can join these causes, or spark a movement of your own!

#between: Lili Rachel Smith knew what it was like to be isolated. Born with Apert syndrome, which causes malformation of the skull as well as the hands and feet, she always looked different (and was often treated like she was invisible). Even so, before dying from complications of her syndrome at age 15, she fought hard for world peace and the inclusion of all people. Her parents have continued her legacy, starting Beyond Differences, which works to end social isolation.

powerful-hashtag“Be the One” is one of the organization’s campaigns, inviting teens “to reach out to someone new…to be thoughtful…to spread the word that kindness is cool.” Using the #BeTheOne hashtag, participants can “Let everyone know about random acts of kindness, cool nice things you’re saying about other kids and anything you hear about or do that is making middle school a happier place for everyone.” Snoop Dog has used the #Hashtag to raise awareness of this kindness campaign—will you?

#BellLetsTalk: In January, Bell Canada hosted the fourth annual “Bell Let’s Talk Day” in Canada to raise awareness and important funding for mentally ill patients. According to CTV News, more than three million tweets with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk were sent throughout the day, making it the “number one Twitter trend in Canada, and number three worldwide.” In addition, there were 109,451,719 tweets, texts, Facebook shares, and calls. And, because, each message earns five cents from Bell Canada, the day raised nearly five and a half million dollars for Canada’s mental health services. A celebrity tweet even came in from Ellen Degeneres! Now that’s impact.

#GivingTuesday: Organized through a partnership between New York’s 92nd Street Y and The United Nations Foundation, #Giving Tuesday is a “campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations,” according to the #GivingTuesday website.

Celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—after shopping days Black Friday and Cyber Monday—the #GivingTuesday tag was used 700 times a minute during peak hours. But just because the big day has passed doesn’t mean that the tag still isn’t being used by activists to share news, encourage more giving and even share inspiring quotes. Give it a try this Tuesday and see what happens!

#JusticeforDaisy: After Daisy Coleman claimed she was raped at age 14 by a popular (and prominent) high school boy, she was harassed online and her family was even bullied into leaving their Missouri town. Meanwhile, the boys at the center of the incident, according to a Slate article“managed to move on with almost no consequences.” In fact, the case was later dropped.

But #justice4rdaisy and #opmaryville hashtags became “a deep repository for news information to put pressure on law enforcement—and the boys involved,” says Slate. Daisy’s case was reopened in October 2013, and this January, two years after the incident, Matthew Barnett, who is now 19, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of child endangerment. And while Daisy is still suffering—she tried to kill herself last month—her family members say “they are glad that Barnett was at least charged with a crime,” according to ABC News.

#NotYourAsianSidekick: 23-three year old Suey Park was looking for a conversation about the representation of Asian-American women when she launched her hashtag…and started a movement! ” [I] wanted [my hashtag] to be accessible to young girls,” she told The Washington Post. “I didn’t want a generation of high school girls to go through what I went through. You’re allowed to fight back. And you are allowed to play the violin or not to play the violin. There is no model for what an Asian-American is.”

Not only was #NotYourAsianSidekick a trending topic when it launched this December, the tag continues to be used to discuss stereotyping and helps Park and her community host discussions online. “In the last month, I’ve had everyone from huge corporations to education specialists reach out to me for tips on how to make a hashtag trend,” Park told  XOJane. “Most end up discouraged when they realize that although there are algorithms and metrics… it actually takes a community to create a trending hashtag.”

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