It seems like hastags have been around since the birth of the Internet, but actually hashtags are only a decade old and it took a bit of time before that little pound symbol became popular and today it is used by millions of people from all difference social media sites. Today you can hardly sign on to sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Gawker and Google Plus without noting hashtags galore. But just how were hashtags did hashtags come about and how do various websites use the hashtag today.
History of Hashtags
In August of 2007 a Twitter user by name of Chris Messina was looking for a way to group conversations on Twitter that would be simple and easy for people to use. He suggested using the pound sign in conjunction with the topic. At first Twitter was reluctant to use the hashtag and felt that it was actually a bit “nerdy” instead of trendy, which the site viewed itself to be.
Then in October of 2007 Nate Ridder used the hashtag for posts about the California wildfire and the hashtag caught on with #Sandiegofire as other people began using the hashtag to write about the fire and to find news and conversations regarding the fire.
By 2009 Twitter gained understanding of the usefulness of the hashtag and not only accepted it but saw how it could crate automatic links to anything preceeded by the pound sign or hashtag. From their the hashtag took off as a way to group conversations, events and more.
Soon other Social Media sites began using hashtags as well with Instagram adding it support to the hashtag in June of 2011, In October of that same year Google began linking hashtags on posts. This was quickly followed by Vine in January of 2013, Flicker in March of that very same year, and Facebook joining in their support in June 2013.
By September this hashtag had become so popular and used so often that Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake did a spoof about the the overuse of the hashtag.
The Hashtag Makes Even More History
The history of the hashtag does not end there. In June of 2011 Audi premieres the first super bowl commercial using the hashtag, And in spring of that same year Twitter played a role in the civil unrest of the Arab Spring and the #Bahrain became the most used hashtag of all time.
In June 2012 Twitter aired its first television commercial highlighting the hashtag and then in Novermber 2013 Twitter holds IPO proving the power of the hashtag once and for all.
From them the hashtag has found a permanent home in social media with it being used for conversations, pictures, advertisments and even for spamming. While some media sites have specific ways to use the hashtag Twitter has kept the use of it pretty open making it fun for their users to use to post their own content and to see the content of others.
Today the hashtag is the most popular means of categorizing content on social media. However, each site may use hashtags in a slightly different manner.
Corporations have actually created some of the most memorable hashtags doing so to promote their porducts or services.
When you use a hashtag you don’t own it anyone is free to then use that hashtag and can exploit it.
Hashtags Don’t Always Work Out According to Plans
You do need to keep in mind that Hashtags don’t always turn out according to plan. McDonald found this out the hard way. They posted a tweet under the #McDstories hoping people would share their great memories regarding happy meals. While many people did just that, there were others who posted negative tweets and horror stories about McDonald’s earning these particular tweets the title of “bashtags.”
The Use of Hashtags on Various Social Media
While it would be impossible to go into complete detail regarding how each social media site uses hashtags to categorize content we feel a brief look at some of the more popular sites may prove to be helpful.
Twitter of course is the social media site where the hashtag all began and in some way it is the social media site where it is easiest to understand how to use the # symbol. On Twitter you user the # before a relevant keyword or phrase in your tweets to categorize those tweets and help them show more easily in a twitter search.
Hashtags are organic and come from Twitter users themselves clicking on a hashtagged word shows other tweets that use the same hashtagged word.
Twitter users use hashtags to find other people who share their passion for something such as #Siamese cats, or to announce an event, or even introduce or join a topic of conversation. Then people who are interested in the same topic simply tap on the hashtagged keyword and brought to all the other public tweets regarding that topic.
Twitter puts the most popular hashtags under their trending topics making these even easier to find.
On Instagram adding a hashtag to the caption or comments of your public posts it will appear on the corresponding hashtage page where you can check other photos and videos that have been added to that page.
For example if you had a great camping trip in Colorado and have taken pictures or videos of your trip that you would like to share, you can post them with #campingcolorado and then others who are interested in camping in colorado or want to share their pictures or videos of camping in the state can post and share theirs as well for you and others to see.
On Instagram after the more hashtags you use the more engagement you see, but after 10 hashtags you tend to lose some of your engagement.
Google plus uses hashtags to explore a topic rather than to currate it. The network auto selects related hashtags and trending topics even from people outside of your circle. The user has no control over the what is automatically choosen. The hastags on Google plus are a great way of finding those outside of your circle that share some of your interests.
Tumblr uses tags that are similar to hastags. They provide a separate section to add the tags. On Tumblr posts with tags tend to perform better than those posts that don’t have tags.
Hashtags on Pinterest can only be clicked on in the pin description. Hashtags in account descriptions, board titles, board descriptions, or profile names are not clickable. Hashtag search results can be filtered to just show boards all though it may show boards that do have a hashtag as well. Having too many hashtags in your Pinterest post could be determental to your ranking.
Youtube could be considered a late comer to the use of hashtags, however they have made good use of the pound sign. On Youtube there are 2 ways to search for a hashtag. You can either search for a hashtag itself or you can click on a hashtag in the video’s description.
When using a hashtag you can put it in the Video’s description. However, if you over tag your video may be useless. When using a hashtag don’t leave a space between the pound sign and the description.
No matter which social media sight you choose, knowing how to use hashtags properly can provide you with a more relevant way to find interesting information or to connect with people who share your interests.
Before using hashtags on any social media site, you should take the time to learn how to use hashtags properly on that specific site. Doing your research will help you use those hashtags more effectively.