First proposed in 2007 for use on Twitter, hashtags have become very main stream. So mainstream in fact, the famed Oxford Dictionary added “hashtag” in June 2014.
As I recently discovered, not everyone who’s online knows about hashtags or uses them. I was recently asked by a client about hashtags, where they came from and how they are used. I thought I’d share my response here. I hope you find it helpful as well.
Here’s a quick hashtag primer:
Hashtags became popular on Twitter in 2009 and have spread to other social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Google also indexes hashtags as search terms. Hashtags are a way to group, categorize, and or make a comment about a social media post. Think of them as metadata for social media that allow readers to group and follow messages or threads. Hashtags provide the ability for people, communities, and brands to more easily microblog and connect with their followers.
Hashtags are space-less words/phrases that are preceded by a hashtag (#) within or at the end of a Tweet, caption (think Instagram or Pinterest), or other social media post.
Some examples of hashtag usage:
- Local areas (#NYC, #SoCal, #Seattle, #London, #TampaBay)
- Events and conferences (#sxsw, #mnf, #blackfriday)
- Brands (#coke, #coors, #NASA, #VRT)
- Activities (#travel, #vacation, #coffee)
- Interests (#FineArts, #Music, #Soccer)
- Commentary and emotions (#sarcasm, #happy, #sad, #soproud, #dream)
Here’s an infographic from OfferPop that highlights the history of the #hashtag (click to enlarge)