Hashtags- all the cool kids are talking about them. They may even hashtag things in verbal conversation, #weird right? Although that might be a little much, there’s no denying the importance and prevalence of hashtags in today’s social media world. But what exactly is a hashtag and where did it come from? Let’s look back and see where it all began.
What is a Hashtag?
A hashtag is a word or a phrase (with no spaces) preceded by the pound sign. An example would be #SuperBowl or #love. Hashtags are used to join various social media posts together and relate them to a certain topic. These subjects could be a sports game, an event, a TV show, something currently happening, or any trend of your choosing. Clicking a hashtag in a social post will automatically bring you to a feed of other messages that include the same hashtag.
Where Did it Begin?
The hashtag was originally used in information technology to emphasize special meaning. It was then used within IRC networks (Internet Relay Chat) to label topics and groups that were available across the entire network.
Twitter launched in July of 2006. On August 23, 2007, the first hashtag was posted by Chris Messina (@factoryjoe) proposing to tag topics of interest with a # sign:
“how do you feel about using the # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”
The term “hash tag” was first mentioned in a blog post by Stowe Boyd in his August 2007 post “Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings.” Beginning July 2, 2009, Twitter started to hyperlink all hashtags in tweets to the Twitter search results of the hashtagged word. In 2010, popular hashtags started being displayed on “Trending Topics” on the Twitter front page.
Launched in October 2010, Instagram quickly became popular. In January of 2011, this online mobile photo-sharing social network introduced hashtags to categorize images and make them searchable. This helped users find photos related to the hashtagged keyword. Below is the first photo tagged #selfie posted on the first day Instagram introduced hashtags.
The social network Google+ launched on June 28, 2011 and hashtag use began on October of 2011. These hashtags are used inside Google+ to help users find and organize posts.
The mobile app Vine (owned by Twitter) enables its users to create and post short looping video clips to share. The app released on January 24, 2013 with hashtag capability and within a couple of months, became the most used video-sharing app.
Flickr, owned by Yahoo!, is one of the biggest photo-sharing social media sites on the web. The Flickr iOS app added hashtags to support photo-sharing on the service’s mobile platform on March 16, 2013. They kicked off the new tool by inviting online users to join a photo challenge by using the hashtag #FlickrFriday. Flickr chose a theme such as #HighNoon and asked people post a picture with the hashtag to participate.
June 2013 marked Facebook’s release of clickable hashtags on the News Feed. Now, if users want to hashtag a cute picture they take of their pug, they can simply include #pug in their caption and the post will become clickable and searchable by others. This makes it easier to find what other people are saying about topics and events, much like the hashtag functionality on other social sites. Your business can search using hashtags to see what people are talking about and you can use hashtags on your brand page in order to reference a campaign.
The Hashtag Today
Hashtags are now implemented in almost every major social media platform whether it’s to group topics or to group photos. Make sure you use them (and use them properly) in order to build your brand, run a campaign, and follow trends. Wondering how to use hashtags effectively on Facebook? Look out for our upcoming post!