Hashtag History: When and What Started It?

May 30, 2013
Hashtags are now used regularly by millions of social media users, especially among members of the largest micro-blogging community Twitter. Many are curious what the very first hashtag was and how it spread quickly across the internet. A hashtag is created by online users to discuss specific events and relevant issues. These are categorically arranged so that other online users can easily search for the topic and participate in the conversation, no matter where they are in the world. Information is updated and shared by social media users.

The First Hashtag

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. The whole tweet appeared like this: ?how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?? 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. His handle is @MrMessina. 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.

Hashtags Today

Today, hashtags are created by several social media experts, educators, institutions and major companies from all around the world to bring in more followers and increase brand recognition. You 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 are talking about it, what other hashtags are being used and what people are saying exactly. 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. Hashtags or chats are regularly held to keep targeted audiences informed and for companies to get actual feedback.

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