Hashtags are now used regularly by millions of social media users, especially among members of Twitter. A hashtag is created by online users to discuss specific events and relevant issues in their lives. These hashtags are arranged so that other online users can easily search for the topic and join in the conversation, no matter where they are in the world. Information is updated and shared by social media users.
Chris Messina, a social technology expert, is credited to have come up with the very first hashtag on Twitter. He first posted the hashtag #barcamp in August 2007. Messina came up with the hashtag with the purpose of gathering discussions and online exchanges regarding Barcamp, a technology unconference gathering activity that spans worldwide. Since then, hashtags have spread to other social media sites and all over the internet to become one of the most widely used functions. According to reports, Evan Williams, Twitter founder, actually shared to Messina that he didn’t think that hashtags were going to be very popular because of their very technical approach. Messina said that IRC influenced this pioneering concept. Hashtags were rather common in IRC before Twitter came into existence and dominated the way people communicated online. Messina posted “Whispering Tweets” on Twitter on August 25, 2007 with the idea of creating inner circles on the website. The goal was to provide users the proper restrictions that would limit conversations to more specific ones that would only relate to a particular audience. He shared how tweets should target certain members of the inner circle so that people can easily respond to these. Creating the inner circles would also lead to targeted users and avoid random visits from individuals who may not be truly interested in a particular issue or topic.
Today, hashtags are created by social media experts, educators, institutions and major companies from all around the world to bring in more followers and increase brand recognition. One can check how well a hashtag is doing by exposing it to analytics tools that will tell you how many tweets are being made with it, how many impressions it is making online, who is talking about it, what other hashtags are being used, and what people are saying exactly.
The hashtag is already taking over mobile conversations, increasing the power of the Tweet, and enabling social media users to search and connect social conversations like never before. More than 70 percent of mobile users use hashtags, and a tweet is 50 percent more likely to be re-tweeted if it contains a hashtag. These have shown to be one of the most useful features on Twitter and other social media platforms to bring in relevant audiences that will help spread information about related products and services.
Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake had to make video about how ridiculous the hashtag phenomenon has become.