The simple hash is used by social media sites everywhere to group content and show what is trending. But where did the humble hashtag come from?

It may surprise the younger generations of internet users that the hash symbol goes back way before the days of twitter. Some of the earliest uses of the hash actually go back as far as 1850. Some believe that is an abbreviation of ‘libra pondo’. This Roman term translates as “pound weight”.

In 1880 a typewriter instruction manual refers to the # symbol as the “number mark”.

In 1917 it was defined as having a dual meaning. A # before a figure means its a number. A # after a figure means it is a pound meaning weight.

In 1988, the # started to be used within IRC or Internet Relay Chat. It was used to label groups and topics and to mark text that needed to be labelled from the rest of the text.

In 2007, Chris Messina decided to suggest that the # symbol was used within Twitter to tag topics and interests much like it had been before. This is where the name ‘hashtag’ comes from even though the symbol is just called a hash.

Using Hashtags On Social Media

Hashtag Tips

Since then almost all social media platforms have added the # as a way of grouping and connecting each other to those with similar interests. If you are going to be using hashtags on your social media then it makes sense to add the same tags you use on all posts to keep a unified tone across the platforms. Below are some tips for platform-specific hashtags.

How to Use Hashtags on Twitter

Twitter recommends using 1-2 hashtags so don’t overdo it. Also making these Tags easy to spell and memorable increase the chances of people using them. Using Hashtags that are already in use around your topic is a great way to engage with people that are already talking about you, so get involved.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Posts are limited to 30 tags and stories are limited to 10. This means you can cover a lot more audiences. Just make sure to keep it relevant. That being said you need to test the ideal amount for your audience as each one varies so make sure to test to find the magic number.

How to Use Hashtags on Facebook

1 -2 industry-specific tags seems to be the golden number on Facebook but again this will need testing based on your industry.

So the # is actually over 170 years old, with it adding the social media ‘hashtag’ as its newest use in a long list of others. For social media be sure to test the amount of tags that work well for your industry but many posts go with the ‘less is more’ approach. Remember to keep the tags simple too, meaning more people are likely to remember and use them. This gives your content the best chance of getting seen.

If you need any more information or have any questions about social media marketing then please get in contact with us today.

Written byGareth Torrance

Hello there. I'm Gareth, the Search Engine Marketing Lead at Brave. With almost a decade of experience in PPC and SEO, I've seen everything from Pandas and Penguins to the horrible time that was Mobilegeddon. As a Google Ads Certified Google Specialist, I have lived through almost every major shift in the industry! And that makes me feel old.

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