As the hashtag (#) celebrates it’s 10th year anniversary as a modern communication tool, we examine its popularity and use, particularly in social media. The hashtag, sometimes called the pound sign in North America, was often used in information technology to highlight a special meaning. In 1970 the pound sign was used to denote immediate address mode in the assembly language of the PDP-11 when placed next to a symbol or a number.
The pound sign or hashtag then appeared and was used within IRC networks (internet relay chat) to label groups and topics. The use of the pound sign in IRC inspired Chris Messina to propose a similar system to be used on Twitter to tag topics of interest on the then microblogging network. He posted the first hashtag on Twitter ten years ago in August 23rd 2007:
It was after a series of forest fires in San Diego in 2007 that the use of the hashtag in Twitter first, and then other social media platforms, became popular. According to Messina the intention behind the hashtag was to make it easy for users to search for content and find specific updates that are relevant without the technological knowledge to navigate the site. Therefore, the hashtag was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages
Ten years later the hashtag is no longer just the prevail of Twitter users, but has also become highly popular on other social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, giving a new lease of life to audience engagement on popular TV shows #GameOfThrones, live events #SuperBowlLI, politics #POTUS and a whole host of news and worldwide happenings.
Simply by pacing the hashtag # symbol in front of a word or key phrase, the author can highlight the key points of his or her communication. Likewise, the reader can use the hashtag # symbol for research and up to date feeds on any particular topic that may be of interest.
The quantity of hashtags used in a post or tweet is just as important as the types of hashtags used. It is currently considered acceptable to tag a post once when contributing to a specific conversation. Two hashtags are considered acceptable when adding a location to the conversation. Three hashtags are seen by some as the ‘absolute maximum’, and any contribution exceeding this risks raising the ire of other users.
So, besides search-ability and speed of information, what additional benefits does the hashtag offer the 21st century marketer and PR guru? Here is a list of some of the more popular advantages of using hashtags in modern communications:
· Improve brand awareness by using hashtags related to service or product to enlist and grow a large following and sense of community.
· Use trending hashtags where relevant to drive additional traffic to your site.
· Encourage interaction with customers, prospects and partners.
· Create a brand hashtag that is unique to your business and use as a signature tag.
· Unique hashtags are ideal for new campaign or product launches.
· Hashtags are search engine friendly
If you would like to know how to improve your social media communications and improve your brand awareness with modern tools, email RML Marketing and Business Development Solutions today at email@example.com