The History & Evolution of Hashtags

The History and Evolution of HashtagsDo you remember when you first came across the legendary hashtag feature on social media? This was back in 2007 when Twitter rapidly became the trendiest and most exciting social media platform. Hashtags usage became the perfect tool for using words that would create an outlet for grouping similar content and targeting the right audience; gaining more viewer traffic to posts.


History of the Hashtag 

Twitter did not always offer the hashtag feature due to users claiming it would promote irrelevant content. Chris Messina, head of West Coast business Development at Republic, had his own personal agenda for combating this accusation as he saw a bright future for social media involving hashtag usage. 


In 2007, a California resident, Nate Ritter, was persistently sharing news of the San Diego fire on Twitter that was gaining traction. At the same time, Chris stumbled upon the trending topic of SanDiegoFire on Flickr and assessed that this was the kind of content that should stream on Twitter through hashtags. Chris reached out to Nate and suggested he test #SanDiegoFire on his tweets, leading to the existence of relevant hashtags.


Adoption from other social media platforms

After the hashtag made its successful debut, Twitter officially adopted the legendary symbol that would change social media engagement forever. When other social media platforms recognized the perks that hashtags offer, they were ready to reap the benefits.


Timeline of adoption following Twitter:

  • Instagram – January 2011
  • Google + – September 2012
  • Facebook – June 2013
  • Pinterest – August 2017


Present Day Hashtag Culture

The universal trend has aided small businesses and promoted countless products, services, and even people over the years. By simply clicking a hashtag, you are exposed to an endless realm of relevant content grouped by category. Not only are hashtags a key resource on every social media platform, but you can also find them on TV shows, breaking news, politics, celebrities, and more. 


Giving the People & Society a Voice 

From boosting brands to getting a message across online, hashtags give people a voice. This simple symbol has impacted society, through its use as a tool to amplify messaging for justice movements. We have all seen or heard of the influential #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. Through hashtags, people are able to come together, tell their stories, and advocate for their interests and values.


At KWSM, we recognize the importance of clients creating a well-rounded community that shares similar interests. Through proper communications, including hashtag usage, we can promote our clients’ brands and gain traction on each social media platform.


In the span of approximately 10 years, hashtags went from being a useful tool known in programmer culture to a mainstream organizational device for online content.

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