The History of Hashtags

Back in August of 2007, Chris Messina tweeted:


Twitter founder Evan Williams didn’t think users would be so into Mr. Messina’s “pound” suggestion to create groups, thinking it was too technical for the social network. But it turns out, he was wrong. Very wrong, really. The very symbol he thought would alienate the non-techie crowd—which came to be known as the hashtag–actually made it easier to connect with others and in 2009, Twitter formally embraced it, with other social networks to follow.

So where do the hashtags we all know and love come from? A lot of times, their origins can be varied and hard to trace, but sometimes it all starts with one tweet.


Once others jumped on the Follow Friday bandwagon, someone added the hashtag, and it’s been the trend that keeps on trending, since 2009.

Other times, it’s all about the alliteration, especially in the case of #TBT. As a way to break through the regular rotation of new sneaker features on his blog NiceKicks.com, Nick Halfhill developed a new content series to focus on vintage shoes that caught his eye—throwback shoes, featured on Thursdays. And after a while, people were participating in the nostalgia themselves, posting their #ThrowbackThursday (or #TBT) memories each week, thrusting the hashtag and it’s variations onto trending hashtag lists consistently over the past few years with everyone from the Kardashians to Habitat for Humanity getting in on the action.


Oftentimes, trending hashtags are spawned from news and sports events, One Direction, celebrity names, One Direction, TV shows, or One Direction. Brands can see a benefit from getting in on these popular conversations, but it’s best to get to the bottom of the hashtag before diving in headfirst. Sometimes seemingly straightforward phrases can have much deeper meanings (Who can forget the DiGiorno debacle?) or something that looks straight up scandalous at first glance can really just be an unfortunate slip of the tongue (Remember Dick Poop?). Whatever the hashtag may be, here’s your friendly reminder to always search the source and the context.

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