Many years ago, I wrote a book entitled, “The Mysterious World of Janitorial Brokers.” The book discussed how many of the contracts to clean facilities in Northern California were bought and sold by brokers to cleaning contractors.
While janitorial brokers are still a bit of a mystery to many, what is possibly even more mysterious are the hashtags being posted all over social media.
A hashtag symbol (#), formally known as the pound sign, is used most often in Twitter to mark keywords or topics that follow conversations and help index tweets. Its use has evolved over time by Twitter users.
For instance, to keep track of tweets and discussions about the new iPhone, a user could tweet #iphone to begin a search.
Regarding news, as another example, one could search #governmentshutdown to follow that current discussion.
It is believed Chris Messina, a San Francisco social media guru, started the use of hashtag when he tweeted the following tweet on August 23, 2007: “How do you feel about using the # (pound) for groups…?”
A few days later, his tweet and the use of hashtags was being discussed in blogs; and, in 2009, Twitter embraced the idea and turned hashtags into hyperlinks.
While this might sound like a cool idea and a way to track the millions of tweets posted each day, unfortunately it has not always worked out that way. Over time, their widespread use by individuals as well as marketers has created a free-for-all atmosphere that in many ways has actually made it harder to find specific discussions and topics.
However, help is on the way. An organization called Healthcare Hashtag Project has set out to “make the use of Twitter more accessible…for the healthcare community…by creating a database of relevant hashtags and hashtag categories.”
It is believed similar projects will develop in other industries and categories, helping to end the free-for-all atmosphere and confusion…and it is happening just in time. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media sites are starting to use #’s to help their users search for what they are looking for.
While they might seem somewhat irrelevant, mysterious, even geeky, as Twitter and social media have grown the use of hashtags and their importance in social media and marketing has grown proportionally.