Are you a hashtag addict? You hardly can send messages across social networks without the use of the “#” symbol? How would you even identify yourself as an addict?
Before we go into finding out if you are addicted to hashtags or not, let us go down memory lane as to how hashtagging on social networks came to life. “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?” was the first message about hashtag on Twitter by Chris Messina on August 23, 2007, and ever since the whole world has accepted and uses it to make messages distinctive and unique.
Now what is the main purpose or objective behind the use of hashtags? It is meant to group and identify similar messages about a given topic. In view of this, when an internet user sees a group of messages with the same hashtag, it is believed that all the messages are talking or discussing about a distinct topic that is of interest to them.
Internationally, the hashtag became a practice of writing style for Twitter posts during the 2009–2010 Iranian election protests, as both English- and Persian-language hashtags became useful for Twitter users in and outside Iran.
The first use of the term “hashtag” was in a blog post by Stowe Boyd, “HashTags = Twitter Groupings, on August 26, 2007, according to lexicographer Ben Zimmer, chair of the American Dialect Society’s New Words Committee.
Beginning July 2, 2009, Twitter began to hyperlink all hashtags in tweets to Twitter search results for the hashtagged word. Furthermore, Twitter introduced trending topics in 2010 through the grouping of hashtags that users discussed about the most.
Now that we know the source and use of hashtags, let me also discuss its function before you get to know if you an addict and for you to stop the abuse of hashtags.
A hashtag is mostly used as an unmoderated adhoc discussion on forums online, tending to show a form of identifying to a particular topic being discussed. And hashtags are quite popular on Twitter because it is said to have originated from there, but other social networks/messaging apps and forums are making use of it too such as Facebook, Instagram and more. When multiple users of a certain social messaging platform identify themselves with a certain hashtag, then it becomes a “trending topic”.
Today, hashtags are created for various purposes either for a football event, fashion show or a political rally, musical concert and many more. Most hashtags today come to life through social media influencers, because they enjoy a high number of followers or friends and these people are able to identify or share their views over a wide range of topics. When they want to trend a topic, it is usually easier for them to use a hashtag and boom, it goes viral.
Another form of trending a hashtag is through online bloggers. It is said that companies and individuals do pay bloggers or “trendsters” to create hashtags to make their goods or event go viral over the internet but this is not always effective in recent times. This could be traced to the fact that most of these “trendsters” tweet irrelevant things, all for just the hashtag to go viral. It is worthy to note that big companies do pay directly to Twitter as well to promote their current campaigns through hashtags.
Hashtagged words usually have different colours from others on social messaging platforms. It is usually made so in order to highlight the trending hashtag from others and search engines on such platforms easily group them together.
Now how would you know you are abusing the hashtag? A couple of times, I have seen friend on BBM, WhatsApp and other social messaging apps that do not support the use of hashtags still make use of it and are not sorry for it. When you start seeing yourself doing this or can hardly even tweet or post a Facebook update without making use of a hashtag, my brother/sister check yourself , you want to trend be that. Hashtag addict!