‘#’ Sign: From Telephones to Social Media

The intersection of parallel horizontal and vertical lines has simply become a powerful way to alert reader’s mind for anything unique and important.

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When I was a kid, I had always seen ‘#’ sign (octothorpe) on the button in the bottom right hand corner on my landline telephone, which was seldom used. It was once just a simple dialer button, but now it has a definition in Oxford Dictionary, which says,

a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media sites such as Twitter to identify messages on a specific topic”.

I wonder how this major change came into existence. The intersection of parallel horizontal and vertical lines has simply become a powerful way to alert reader’s mind for anything unique and important. The idea of using hashtags on social media today has completely changed the marketing strategies of digital marketers.

In 2007, designer Chris Messina for the first time used the sign ‘#’ on Twitter to ask his followers about the idea of using the hash sign for conversations. And since then, there was no looking back; in fact in July 2009, Twitter formally adopted the use of hashtag into code, which automatically hyperlinks the terms attached with the ‘#’ sign. Gradually it was adopted by Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and every other social platform expect LinkedIn. Today hashtag has become a crucial part of social media marketing strategy.

First ever Tweet with Pound or Hash sign:

Hashtag of social media world:

On social media, # or hashtag is used which is followed by a keyword or key phrase. When it is used with key phrase or say a bunch of words, there shouldn’t be any spaces between words or even punctuation mark, for e.g. #ItShouldLookLikeThis.

On social media, it is important to categorize content to be able to easily monitor or track events, trends or discussions, and with the use of hashtags it has become relatively easy.

The two sides of coin:

Though the use of hashtags sounds pretty straight forward, but in real it isn’t that simple. If it is a powerful tool, it can be a painful nuisance too.

Hashtag Pros:

  • Hashtags promote awareness: With the use of Hashtags it becomes easy to make the audience aware about a particular subject, which could be a brand, product service, or an initiative.
  • Hashtags set trends: With the use of hashtags, one can make people start conversations, and exchange ideas about a particular subject.
  • Overhearing audience: With hashtags it is easy to discover and know about the audience and their likes & dislikes.

Hashtag Cons:

  • Hashtag abuse: To overflow hashtags in a particular post is not just confusing but annoying. By flooding hashtags anywhere on social media, one abuses the power of hashtags.
  • Tag hijacking: Tag hijacking is a situation that occurs when a hashtag is introduced for a specific purpose but is turned into a joke by the audience or brand haters.
  • Doing it wrong: Using too long or too clever hashtag or hashtagging everything is not a legitimate use of a hashtag. 


When used wisely, hashtags are a powerful tool for making digital marketing strategy and utilizing the power of social media marketing. Remember to use hashtags smartly to help people engage and find your content.

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