On June 13th, “hashtag” finally made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). This little symbol, which can be found across Twitter, was already existent in Merriam Webster and the American Dialect Society’s collection of words. However, the OED pays homage to its role in social networking.
The OED states that hashtags “originated on, and are chiefly associated with, the social networking service Twitter.”
The hashtag symbol is typically used before a word or phrase to begin a “trend” or topic on the website. “Trends” can be browsed throughout Twitter by typing a hashtag into the search bar, followed by a word or phrase. This is the company’s exact definition:
“The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”
Hashtagged words or phrases help Twitter users find other people on the site who may be talking about a topic of interest – and this is where marketing comes into play.
As illustrated in a recent column on Search Engine Watch, marketers can drive engagement and reach out to their target audience through the use of hashtags. For example, a marketer who wants to find individuals who are interested in SEO on Twitter can simply type “#SEO” into the search bar to discover other users who are discussing the topic. Similarly, a marketer can release a tweet with “#SEO” to gather attention from other users who may be interested.
However, as discussed in an article on the Content Marketing Institute, it’s important for marketing teams to observe hashtag trends in order to make the most of their social networking opportunity. Certain hashtags may be more popular than others – it’s up to marketers to test their audience, measure the level of interest and hone in on hashtags that drive the most traffic and interaction.
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