So what is a #hashtag?

In August 2007, Chris Messina tweeted this:

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 6.56.29 PM.png

He said he came up with the “#” as an “easy way to bring people together discussing the same topic” (Good Question: How Did The Pound Sign Become A Hashtag?). He didn’t receive a lot of support at first, but by 2009 Twitter began using hashtags and their popularity only continued to grow.

The question then changed from, What is a hashtag and how do I use it? To, How do I use a hashtag effectively?

Some big takeaways:

  1. Don’t overuse them: Using hashtags generally increases engagement, but overusing them (usually 3 or more in one post) can have the opposite effect
  2. Make them unique and representative of you or your brand: Nike, for example, does not brand themselves using #nike, but instead uses unique hashtags like #justdoit
  3. Know what’s trending and do your research: What’s trending now? Is your hashtag already being used in a different discussion? You want to make sure you know your audience and your platform.


How exactly has the #hashtag has evolved?

Did you know you can order a custom hashtag for your wedding or for other special occasions? Happily Ever #Hashtagged offers this service…at $40-$85 a hashtag.

Weird, right? Who the heck would spend this kind of money on a few words?

Now I wasn’t very impressed with Happily Ever Hashtagged’s product. Some examples include #ForeverlyHills (from Dana Sturtz & Ryan Hill) or #KatieSaysIDOugherty (from Katie Gaston & Connor Dougherty). But clearly there are people out there willing to pay for this service.

Could this service be indicative of the significance and usefulness of the hashtag?

In the FAQ, Marielle (the brain behind Happily Ever #Hashtagged) explains that a unique hashtag is a useful tool that helps couples organize guest activity on social media. And that generic hashtags like #SmithWedding accumulate content that can become exhaustive to sort through.

I think the pull of social media is to be (or even just appear) interesting, popular, trendy, etc. And Happily Ever #Hashtagged is banking on that desire.



One thought on “#Hashtags

  1. Great post! Although I’m a millennial, I’m still old enough to remember a time when the # meant a pound sign rather than a “hashtag”. I do agree that hashtags are often overused in attempts to draw more attention to posts (not to mention the posters themselves), but they are still effective in online communications (such as the recent US political campaigns).


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