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#hash #tag #this

June 18, 2012 - Art Smith
On a key board it’s “Shift 3” on a phone it’s simply called the pound key. On the web, and particularly on Twitter, it’s called a hash tag and has help millions to spread the word about everything from #kegparties to #arabrevolutions.

The use of the ubiquitous little character to define Twitter topics is fairly new. It is believed it was first use proposed in 1997 and was used by a California resident to define tweets about wildfires there. In 2009 Twitter started making the tags links to pages containing other tweets that did the same, and the use of the tags really took off.

For a generation used to speaking in text message abbreviations, the transition to hash tags is NBD, for others it just ads to the visual clutter that is hard to understand.

The simple use of the tags make it easier to filter out the quarter billion Tweets that are sent every day and reduce them to just the items in which you are interested in.

If you are in the business of promoting something, be it a race, a publication, a cause or even a job opening, a hash tag can give people a way to find what you are promote even if they do not “follow” you in the traditional sense.

Hash tags are simple. The text that immediately follows the mark is what you expect people to search for. If someone builds a search looking for an event in which to run, for instance, they might search for #run.

The person writing the tweet, in this case me, trying to promote The News and Sentinel Races, might tweet something like this:

#Runners will love to #run #13.1 miles 8.18.12 at The News and Sentinel Half Marathon -

If a person searched for either #Runner, #run or #13.1, they would see the tweet and hopefully click on the link.

The use of hash tags set up de facto topic specific mini sites within Twitter that allow users to find and contribute to topics that are important to them. Because of this, they are likely here to stay.


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