By Yoana Gaydova
One symbol known by us for many years has recently become enormously popular. The hash symbol has come a long way from being a pound sign to the overused and abused hash tag a.k.a. hashtag.
The History of the Hashtag
First appearing within IRC networks as a system of labeling topics and groups, the hashtags inspired the Twitter user Chris Messina, who in 2007 suggested using them on the social network as a similar way of tagging topics and grouping tweets around the same subject. Two years later Twitter hyperlinked all the hashtags and in 2010 introduced the “Trending Topics”, listing the hashtags that are becoming the most used and gaining popularity.
The Purpose of the Hashtag
The initial ideabehind it is that after adding the prefix to your word or phrase, it becomes clickable and brings you to a real-time stream of tweets on the same topic, containing the same hashtags.
Years after conquering Twitter, the unofficial search tool is now vital for other social media, such as Instagram, Vine, Flickr, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook and more.
Hashtags Help the Businesses
Businesses have also recognized the potential of the metadata stamp for broadening their reach and brand awareness. In the UK, 61 of the country’s top 100 brands have used Facebook hashtags. It became a tool for marketers to engage users in conversations, monitor customers’ discussions and opinions, and generate buzz around a marketing campaign.
The Hashtag Overload
Despite the undoubted value that hashtags may have, when used properly, they also serve other purposes, way less important. The hope of the attention-seeking social media users of getting more followers and likes, has resulted in ridiculously looking formatted hyperlinked unreadable tweets/posts. What these people really get is a bunch of annoyed comments and hashtagification haters.
Hashtagging became so “cool” that people started using it on Facebook way before it was even a function. Just for no reason. At a point things went out of control and now hashtags are hanging everywhere with or without any sense. Now the digital natives and social media-obsessed feel the need to even put them on T-shirts, song titles, music videos, anywhere they can.
Not only is it annoying to see 30 hashtags “describing” a photo on Instagram, but it’s not even useful anymore. Looking for a specific hashtag on a topic you are interested in, you see all random things that have nothing to do with what you are searching for.
Hashtags – the New Language
Some people are even worried that the hashtags are replacing the actual language and even ruining it. For instance, the modern social media users would not actually express in a sentence how bored they are, but simply throw in #bored #nolife. When the hashtags become more, it’s not even worth the effort to decode the post and figure out what it is saying.
Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s Viral Hashtag Skit
In a recent popular comedy video that reached million viewers in just a few days, Jimmy Fallon and the singer/actor Justin Timberlake show just how awkward our Twitter conversations would sound if they took place in real life.
In conclusion, people should remember that regular words still work and stop overusing the hashtags, especially not out of their purpose and when they are not relevant. Twitter itself recommends putting not more than two hashtags in a tweet.