Happy Birthday Hashtags!

Today marks the 8th birthday of the hashtag. Since the idea of a channel tags were first muted in this blog post  from Chris Messina on this day in 2007 they have becoming an essential part of any marketing campaign.

Interestingly they did not come from Twitter but were instead sourced from the community. The hashtag’s beauty is in it’s simplicity. It didn’t require any major training to implement. All users had to do was put a # symbol before a word in their tweet.

From the very start it was public property. It wasn’t owned by any one individual or brand. You couldn’t keep one private. Anyone could use a hashtag and follow tweets that contained a hashtag. This contributed to the success of the hashtag and the fundamental shift in the way that news spreads. Now to find out all of the latest information on a particular subject is click on the hashtag.

It has been interesting to see the evolution of the hashtag from a marketing point of view. Brands are no longer trying to ram their brand name into a hashtag. Brands are becoming more secure when creating hashtags. They are now trusting that the content that they are creating is strong enough to earn them online mentions.

There have also been some great examples of brands having fantastic success by taking advantage of hashtags that are trending. Here is a particular favourite of mine from the guys in HB who took advantage of the internet phenomenon that was The Dress

It was retweeted over 350 times and it cost the brand almost nothing to put together.

Susan BoyleBut very every brand that gets it right there is one that gets it wrong. A particular favourite of mine is the hashtag that was created for Susan Boyle’s album launch. The hashtag read #SusanAlbumPart. But unfortunately you could read that in another way.

So the moral of the story is that the hashtag has developed into an incredibly powerful marketing tool over the past 8 years. But be very careful because it is as easy to get it wrong as it is to get it right.


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