We used to call them tic-tac-toes, the pound key on a telephone, or my own personal usage, criss cut fries. The Internet phenomenon of “hashtags” that originated from social media has rapidly taken over the entire world.
Just a brief description, hashtags that are so closely associated with Twitter, was actually officially named by blogger Stowe Boyd in August 2007. He did refer to them as tags, but adding the word hash as a prefix gives it a little extra umph! Then it wasn’t until 2009 that Twitter implemented hashtags, and now any word that was attached to one was automatically hyperlinked. Any tweets that contain the same hashtagged words were grouped into trending topics, so whatever hashtag you click on will lead you a page hosting a bunch of Tweets sharing the same hashtags.
This was great for like-minded people to join a conversation and read the related news. Then, people got hashtag-hungry. #They #started #hashtagging #everything and now this very sign here (#) can be seen anywhere from billboard and magazine ads to even music.
The first documentation of a hashtag present in a song was in Cobra Starship’s 2011 single “#1Nite.” The idea behind it was purely marketing, where the band’s manager suggesting adding the symbol to the title so that it would automatically trend on Twitter. Trend it did. Hysterically, radio DJ’s mistaken the hashtag as a numerical symbol, announcing to listeners the new song as “Number One Night.”
Since then, hashtags exploded everywhere in the music scene. Next, Will.I.Am’s solo album is a double whammy, with his album titled #willpower and single featuring Justin Bieber called #thatPOWER. It was #marketing #genuis because the song passed 569,000 units during its release week.
What some other artists have discovered is that in order to squeeze the most marketing juice out of a hashtagged name, it’s best to release it when the name is most popular. For example, Miley Cyrus is cemented in history as bringing twerking back into style, so naturally rapper Busta Rhymes came out with his track #Twerkit in the midst of Cyrus’s post VMA performance mayhem.
Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez, on the other hand, chose to go with words that are constantly trending, #Beautiful and #Liveitup, respectively. One minute you are scrolling through the #Beautiful thread, looking at photos of sunsets, wedding photos, fresh flowers in a Mason jar, and all of a sudden you see Mariah riding on the back of a motorcycle in her music video.
Who knew that 4 tiny black lines laid together vertically and horizontally can tremendously boost whatever it is you want to promote? It is a marketing tactic that anyone with Internet access can do, so hashtag away…but use sparingly!