The hashtag, Twitter and other social media’s dominant organizing principle (and let’s be honest, frequent punchline, #blessed), may seem like it’s always been around, but that’s actually not the case. Today marks the hashtag’s 10th birthday, so let’s look back at where it began and how it’s grown.
Chris Messina, a former Google and Uber developer, came up with #barcamp to manage conversations during the BarCamp technology conference.
Messina recalled in a post on Quora that Twitter founder Evan Williams once told him that he thought that hashtags were too nerdy to succeed in the mainstream.
"What you think might be just a campaign-based hashtag ... You should think, what if this evolves and becomes more than what we think it is?" Twitter's head of global strategy Alex Josephson told Entrepreneur. "What if it becomes an annual franchise? You should engineer the language of the hashtag to be one that can live on in perpetuity even if you're not quite sure where it's going to go." Two brand campaigns he cited that had that effect were Charmin's #tweetfromtheseat and REI's Black Friday-themed #optoutside.
Many people might think award shows are irrelevant, but five of the biggest hashtags of the past 10 years stem from fans tweeting while watching award shows. These five hashtags -- #MTVHottest, #MTVStars, #KCA, #iHeartAwards, #BestFanArmy -- for two MTV contests in the U.K., the Kids Choice Awards and the iHeart Radio Music Awards, were used more than 3 billion times.