The # symbol originally represented the word ‘number’, also used for the game tic-tac-toe. In the US it was called the pound and other common names were hex, square and cross. However, in recent years these humble four lines have exploded into the modern world and is mainly used in Social Media as a prefix to word strings of certain relevance. Now known as the hashtag, this symbol is used to tag keywords, phrases and other strings of characters in order for Social Media users to track topics and trends allowing for others to use them as well. This provides a wonderful tool and opportunity for Business Owners and Digital Marketers to boost the strength and effectiveness of their Social Media Marketing Campaign.
From tic-tac-toe to #
In 1988 when the world was using Internet Relay Chat (IRC), hashtags were already being used to categorize images, messages, videos and other content into groups which made it easier for IRC users to search for.
In 2007 user-experience designer, Chris Messina, first used the hashtag on Twitter by asking his followers how they felt about using the # (pound) for groups. This simple tweet is what kicked of the revolution. This was reverberated by Nate Ritter who used the #sandiegofire on Twitter for updates on the San Diego forests fires so the public could access them easily. However, the actual term ‘hashtag’ was use by Stowe Boyd in a blog post in 2007.
By 2010 the word ‘trending’ became highly associated with Social Media when Twitter began to highlight hashtags on their homepage based on their popularity.
Since this is the platform on which it originated, hashtags are still widely used on Twitter. Hashtags are remarkable for delivering targeted Brand messages for businesses. You and your target market can participate in trending conversations which are visible on the Twitter sidebars, or you can research relevant ones to your Brand on hashtag.org and use those which are most appropriate for you.
Just like Twitter, Facebook provides a unique URL for each hashtag you and your target Audience can click on and get connected with.
Hashtags make your Instagram photos more discoverable by a target Audience, else your photos will just remain private. Use of hashtags in photos provide businesses with an effective tool for influencing and creating Brand followers.
Using hashtags in Google+ allows for your posts to get better results in a Search Engine results page. When a user clicks on a # they do not only see the original # post, but also other posts with the same # as well.
How Hashtags can increase your Brand Awareness
Since the power of Social Media is how well you engage with your Audience through Conversations and Content. Adding hashtags to your content not only allows you and your followers the opportunity to see other relevant conversations, but also allows increased engagement. Hashtags can also increase Brand Loyalty as it provides your Target Audience with more insights about your Brand.
From being just a four lined symbol, the hash sign (hash tag) has proven to be a new and exciting way to generate engagement and interaction with your Audience. When used correctly, hashtags are a powerful tool which helps connect thousands of people worldwide.
Written by: PRIO Communications and Consulting