I don't think I'm alone in finding the history of the hashtag pretty adorable: did you know it was originally called Octothorpe?
If you are just starting out with twitter, then you will be seeing hashtags (#) everywhere and perhaps wondering what they are for and how to use them.
Essentially, hashtags make searching for tweets much easier.
For instance, if you're organizing a conference and asking everyone to use the same hashtag about it (let's say #conf2014 for the purpose of discussion), then it's an easy way for conference-attendees to find each other while tweeting about the events of the day. If you need proof of engagement or feedback then searching for that hashtag post-conference will make your job much easier too....
Here's a few things to remember:
- Anyone can create a hashtag, including you. Try to make it simple, short and memorable.
- You don't need to #hashtag #simple #words #as #it #won't #make #a #difference #when #searching #and #looks #a #bit #silly.
- No need to repeat a word already used in the tweet as a hashtag. You only get a few characters to play with, so use the spare space for something more creative!
- The hashtag you want to create might already be in use and represent something you don't, so do search twitter first before committing to it.
- Have fun, sometimes creating a hashtag that is completely unsuitable can add to the charm of your tweet.
- Some twitter accounts make a point never to use hashtags and that's fine too: research your market and work out what's appropriate. #YOLO isn't suitable for every business....
The first appearance of hashtags on the Internet was in Internet Relay Chat, or IRC. Created in 1988, IRC is a network where users communicate to one another through channels, signified by the pound sign. #London would be a channel of people talking about London, #singles with single people, and so on and so forth. With the IRC community growing to almost half a million users, they needed a name for the titles of these channels, in which they decided on – you guessed it – the hashtag.