Hashtags: Keeping Up with the ConversationFriday, February 21st, 2014 by Erin Peters
In 1988 hashtags were firstly used on a platform named Internet Relay Chat. It was one of the first protocols on the Internet that was used to send messages in real time. For most, it was an afterthought on our telephone keypads and then a way to ensure your voicemail was delivered. Now, the pound sign is a typographical symbol with lofty ambitions.
Six years ago, Twitter’s users invented what’s now known as the hashtag and has found its way into commercials, football games and even spoken language. In 2007, developer Chris Messina proposed, in a tweet, that Twitter begin grouping topics using the hash symbol. The pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link.
So, why are hashtags now a big part of our society?
The role of business in society is all encompassing and social media has forever changed the way we communicate. Hashtags are the little links that brings it all together.
The social scene is massive and often overwhelming. The hashtag adds clarity and direction and allows for wordplay, humor and sometimes, even poetry. Their flexible and versatile and it improves the chance that other Twitter users will find your tweet in targeted Twitter searches.
Those who can adapt to society around them tend to be the ones who evolve and create new ideas. Will hashtags soon become an official piece of #punctuation in formal writing?
We’re taught at an early age, with cognitive development, in preschool and beyond, that social interaction is crucial. Social networks and hashtags particularly, create influence and an opportunity to learn and find information. #RealTimeLearning.
The hashtag gives the writer the opportunity to sarcastically undermine their own tweet. Can I answer my own questions with hashtags? #Yes. Be thoughtful and choose relevant hashtags.
Here are a couple of examples:
Shoulder pads make me look awesome. #kidding
Need to go to #NYC for a wedding. Advice on #CheapTravel?
So why should your business care about hashtags?
Hashtags imply categorization, classification and commentary. Deliver metaphors in just a word or two.
Hashtags like #SMB or #smallbiz are great to seek information, resources and current news of the small business variety. The #marketing and #sales hashtag contains a lot of business-related content. Use a branded hashtag if you have a very specific message to convey.
Curious which hashtags are trending across social media? Hashtags.org tells you which tags are hot in real time. Third parties like Webstagram provide helpful breakdowns of the trendiest hashtags.
Language has evolved before and will inevitably evolve again. Will your business keep up with the conversation?