Hashtags are a common occurance on social media. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ are being flooded with this popular, and sometimes annoying symbol, especially by celebrities and teens.
However, despite being used (or abused) all over, not many people understand where they came from or what their purpose actually is. Here we look at the history and dos and don’ts when it comes to using hashtags.
The Hashtag originated from what we call metadata tags. The metadata tags were popularly used in 1998 on a platform now known as Internet Relay Chat (IRC). These tags were used for grouping messages, images, and videos, so people could simply search for the tags and get all relevant information associated with them.
Fast forward to October 2007, many bloggers began using these tags on their websites for the same reason – searchability. Stowe Boyd, a blogger, was the first to have officially called them “hash tags”
By July 2009, the hashtag was formally adapted by Twitter, and anything that contained a “#” sign in front of it became a hyperlink on the social platform. With so many people using Twitter, the hashtags gained a lot of popularity online.
When Instagram launched in 2010, they used hashtags much in the same way as Twitter, so that people could search for similar images.
In June 2013, Facebook introduced hashtags and since then hashtags have become even more popular.
However, not everybody knows how to use hashtags appropriately or the purpose of using them. Here is a little detail on what hashtags are used for and how to use them correctly.
Hashtags are a label for content, which means they help others who are interested in a certain topic to immediately find information related to that same topic by searching for that particular hashtag. Anyone sharing information can include hashtags in their messages, tweets, or statuses, to increase the likelihood of their content being discovered by others.
Hashtags have also come to be used for other purposes, such as by businesses to promote different products and services, especially at launches or special events. This once again makes the hashtag (and therefore product) searchable on social media. If enough people use the hashtag, it will create a trend, which then means more people will see it.
Some people create hashtags for special events, such as weddings, so that their friends and family can search for photos from their event. People also use hashtags in a funny way, including sarcastic or self-aware tags to make a joke. These tags are only for laughs, as they are too specific to be searchable.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ are all hashtag supported platforms. However, many people, instead of using the hashtag, are abusing it. They include too many hashtags in one message or use it too often, when not needed.
It is important that you #do #not #use #hashtags #for #every #word #as #it #becomes #annoying. Furthermore, #DontCreateHashtagsThatAreTooLong. Always try to keep the message short and sweet.
If your brand voice is humorous, and you feel confident getting creative, you can include funny and timely hashtags. If you’re not sure, play it safe and keep it simple.
The best way to use hashtags on your social media is to make them easy to remember and understand, or to use commonly searched words relevant to your topic. Otherwise, it defies the purpose.
So, now that you are familiar with the history, purpose and the basics of hashtags, go forth and tag responsibly!