Let’s begin with the basics. A hashtag is a tool used on social media to tag a post with a unique and searchable term.

By adding the “#” symbol to the front of a word or a series of words without spaces, you allow it to become a searchable term that can be followed. Hashtags are most relevant and useful on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram because of their more public nature (in contrast Facebook is often used to reach private friends and family).

In the mission to eliminate hepatitis there are already global hashtags used and shared internationally – for example #NoHep, and for special events, #WorldHepatitisDay.

How can simple hashtags allow us to listen, engage and evaluate Australia’s hepatitis elimination knowledge and actions?

When using social media to communicate our health messaging it’s vital we use those tools to listen and engage as well as to broadcast our messages.

Listening is vital to connect with communities and allows us to receive as well as to broadcast our own health messages.

When using hashtags, it’s very important that we monitor and listen to what others are saying using the same hashtags we use.

On global platforms like Twitter and Instagram, when we monitor and follow the international hashtags, Australian health messages are often missed or overwhelmed with the global updates and news. As we progress and coordinate a national response it is important that we share content, and monitor our own Australian hashtag. Hepatitis organisations may also want to create localised versions like #HepFreeNT for example.

Who should use #HepFreeAus?

Anyone who has something important to say about hepatitis elimination in Australia should add this tag.

If you have new information, thoughts or contributions regarding Australia’s hepatitis elimination, you will be able to use the hashtag connect and share with the national network of health experts, community voices and educators working towards this goal.

How long will we use this hashtag for?

Right now, we’re not sure as it’s important to be adaptable and responsive. Sometimes hashtags can become hijacked by spammers or trolls, which means they need to be replaced. It’s also important to use global hashtags or hashtags for specific to days of significance like #WorldHepatitisDay or #LetsTalkHep when appropriate. So we will adapt our hashtags as needed.

We don’t have the capacity to follow another hashtag. How can we support it anyway?

Hepatitis Australia will be following the #HepFreeAus hashtag, and we’ll share and promote the most significant posts and news we see shared using this tag. Follow or subscribe to us and we’ll keep you informed