The Story of the Hashtag

13276610_sTo some, hashtags come naturally; to others, they are still a mystery as to how it began, how to use them, and what the point of it all is.

How about a short and sweet history lesson on hashtags?

For the most part, we can thank Chris Messina for the origin of the personal use of hashtags. He tweeted back in August of 2007. His message read, “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups.  As in #barcamp [msg]?

But it wasn’t until two months later, when Nate Ritter used the hashtag #sandiegofire that it really caught on. By July 2009, Twitter officially adopted hashtags as we know them – as a tool for categorizing conversations. Soon, Instagram was on board, then Tumblr, and finally Facebook gave in last year.

So how do hashtags impact marketing?

1.  They Drive Engagement.
Those with a hashtag showed a 12 percent bump in engagement, which is a retweet (RT) a favorite (in Facebook terms, a like), or a reply.

2.  Tie Activity.
Since the majority of the major social media platforms have embraced hashtags, it is a great way to connect all of your platforms with a simple #(InsertYourTagline). Check out the Super Bowl this year. The #SB48 ads included more hashtags than mention of any other social media signal, such as a Twitter handle or Facebook.

3.  Track Results.
The NFL and Verizon created a solid campaign using #WhosGonnaWin, asking fans to vote for the team they thought would win. They even created a website to follow these results in real time, http://www.whosgonnawin.com/.

 4.  Create Stories.
Again during #SB48, Esurance ran the first commercial right after the game ended announcing that they would give away $1.5 million to a random person who used #EsuranceSave30. Imagine the stories that stirred up! Within the first minute, Esurance received 200,000 tweets. By the time the contest ended, a total of 5.4 million tweets had been collected.

There you have it, friends. The hashtag is a very powerful symbol and is growing all the time. Everyone is getting on board with hashtags. Are you ready? Talk with Susan J. Campbell today and find out how we can leverage hashtags for your company.

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