But First, Let Me Use a #Hashtag

A History of the Social Media Symbol that has Taken our Culture by Storm

Nicolle Katz | Crown Staff

It’s trending. It’s community. It’s real-time information. It’s business and it’s pleasure. It is the hashtag.

Fast Facts:

  • Did you know that this pesky little symbol has been used as an attention grabber on technology mediums for over 40 years?
  • In the 1970s, computer programmers called it the “hash” and used it to draw attention to specific articles in the codes they were writing.
  • Phone operators in the 1980s named it the “pound” symbol and used it to separate strings of numbers when dealing with automated customer service systems.
  • Then, an early internet community called the Internet Relay Chat picked up the use of the symbol to label the channels and topics that connected users, and they dubbed it “the hashtag.”
  • Since being adopted by Twitter users across the globe, the hashtag has revolutionized the way businesses and individuals are able to unite through social media. Who knew that connecting four lines would one day have the power to connect millions of users?

But recently the number sign has become increasingly number sensitive. While a complete lack of hashtags can hamper your reach, too many tags can be #annoying. So, how many hashtags is best?

Here’s what you need to know to optimize your social media posts and mesmerize your captive audience. 

Twitter: Use a maximum of two hashtags in a given tweet. Tweets with 1-2 hashtags are 21% more effective and get two times more engagement than naked tweets.  Trending topics, articles, and newsworthy content are great sources of hashtag content. But, with a 140 character limit, make these hashtags count by keeping them short and sweet.

Facebook: When Facebook adopted hashtags, users were hesitant to open their arms (and Facebook walls) to hashtag highlighting. But, as time progresses, hashtags on Facebook are picking up speed. Posts with one or two hashtags are optimal, with a reported median viral reach of nearly 600 interactions.

Instagram: Instagram is hashtag heaven. In fact, posts with 11 or more hashtags have the highest interaction rate of all. Translation: go nuts! Hashtag your feelings, mindmaps, and try something new. With images doing all the talking, users don’t seem to mind the look of the hashtag paragraphs below them, so let the hashtags flow.

Feeling inspired? Good. You’re on your way to maximizing your engagements and becoming a hashtag guru.