Ah the ubiquitous Twitter Hashtag. Where would a Tweet be without one? Indeed, how would we know the topic of the missive from the omnipresent microblog social media giant without it?
Well, interestingly enough, Twitter didn’t always have a hashtag associated with its tweets. The hashtag, which enables tweets to be classified into groups, was first proposed to Twitter by Chris Messina, a former Google engineer, in 2007. Way back then, the hashtag was known by its much less marketable name “poundkey”. And in a great lesson on how entrepreneurs tend to be focused on one thing and a little lucky as opposed to overall visionaries, Twitter declined to adopt Messina’s idea claiming that it was just some nerdy concept that would never catch on. Ha! Well, turns out that both Twitter and the hashtag worked well together. Messina, for his part, never sought a patent on his concept as he was looking for universal adaptation and was concerned that a license would only curtail use. Not that’s a vision.
Remember, you send your tweets to your followers on twitter and they are typically following others. The hashtag has the advantage of letting the audience (your followers and whomever out in the twitter universe may get a retweet) what the overall Tweet is about (why this is required for a 140 character message is a different topic altogether). Anyway, most people find a hashtag useful and it should be included in most tweets that are informative in nature. Of course, hashtags allow for such cleverness as sarcasm and the like which actually makes Twitter a more rewarding experience at times. Indeed, clever marketers will find much greater engagement with their Twitter Followers if they use hashtags in a humorous manner.
A recent phenomenom regarding hashtags is the use of two hashtags in one tweet. This, apparently, is for the more advanced tweeter, but also some members of the Twitter etiquette elite, frown on its use. Well, either way, the hashtag has gotten so popular and such a part of the overall Twitter experience that it even has its own website hashtag.org. A site dedicated to all things hashtag and even includes a dictionary!
All-in-all a little ironic, as the original goal of Twitter was to distill messages down to simple and concise words to simplify the message. Well, so much for that idea! Well, we know Jimmy Fallon has made hay with hashtags: