What would Twitter be without the hashtag?
Think about it.
The hashtag first emerged in 2007, when Chris Messina tweeted “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”
With over one billion tweets sent every 2 to 3 days, the hashtag has become a staple for every Twitter user. Other websites including, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Youtube, WordPress and Pinterest have also taken advantage of the idea as a way for users to search certain subjects.
Hashtags have even become a part of everyday speech. This morning I heard my roommate say, “hashtag long hair don’t care” while getting ready for class.
Hashtags are everywhere on television too, making sure that viewers remember to tweet about their favorite primetime show or product. During this year’s Super Bowl, almost half of the 52 national TV commercials that aired during the Super Bowl included a hashtag in the advertisement.
Facebook has taken notice too, and recent news headlines suggest that the social media powerhouse plans to somehow incorporate the hashtag into their website.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that “By incorporating hashtags, Facebook would be able to quickly index conversations so that conversations can build around topics, as they do on Twitter. That would give users more reasons to stay logged onto the service and see more ads.”
This means dollar signs for Facebook execs, but who blames them?
Right now, Facebook doesn’t offer any kind of search function. Hashtags would also provide a way for advertisers to search a specific audience to target more efficiently. With Twitter, advertisers have the ability to target people searching for certain trending topic with timely, relevant ads.
Perhaps advertisers have benefited the most from hashtags since it seems that every marketing plan includes some kind of social media and/or the hashtag.
Delta Sonic, for example, used the hashtag as a marketing technique this winter. The company asked users to take a photo of their salty car with “#saltbites.” If the company tweeted you back a photo of their “super kiss lips”, you would win three months of unlimited carwashes. Delta Sonic promised to pick one winner each week from January 5 through March 15.
This is an effort to expand the company’s customer pool. Any publicity is good publicity, right?
The hashtag has created almost a “Library Of Congress” for our generation. In seconds, you can find thousands if not millions of ideas on one topic. If anything, future generations will learn about the past by searching this way.
Media professionals should get to know it especially, because the hashtag is here to stay.