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A Short History Of The Hashtag

Perhaps the most important term in the Essential Twitter Dictionary we published last week is “hashtag.”

A hashtag, or “#”, denotes a keyword or topic on Twitter. It’s any string of characters without spaces.

Some of the most popular hashtags from the past few months are: #NFL, #Election2012, #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday.

Hashtags are the quickest and easiest way to search for and find out what Twitter users are currently talking about. They’re also key to productive Twitter engagement – hashtags put your tweets in front of the people who are interested in them.

But how did it all start?

Back in August 2007, designer Chris Messina, the self-described “hash godfather,” officially invented the hashtag when he asked his Twitter followers what they thought of using the pound sign to group conversations on Twitter.

Five years later, hashtags are completely integral to the Twittersphere. They add context, humor and organization to your tweets.

If you want to dive even deeper, check out three tools to use in identifying the meaning behind different hashtags.

And the final takeaway – just don’t be one of those people who take hashtags offline and start speaking in Twitter-lect. Exhibit A: If you spill your coffee all over your shirt, do NOT say “Hashtag coffee fail” out loud. Do not.

(Hashtag image from Shutterstock)

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