What is a (#) Hashtag?

Thanks to the member-driven online information site Twitter, the lowly “pound” or “number” symbol “#” has been elevated to a new role. The hash mark, or pound symbol, (#) is now known by social media users as a “hashtag” or “hash tag”. Posts that have the same keywords prefixed with the # symbol are grouped together in user searches, bringing a level of order to the frenzied chaotic world of Twitter.

Twitter user Chris Messina (@chrismessina) first Tweeted with a hashtag symbol # in August 2007, as a way to define groups on the social media site. The use of the pound symbol to categorize messages and define conversations spread quickly throughout the Twitter community, and is now an integral part of this fast-paced live information network.

via What is a (#) Hashtag? | Hashtags.org.

I can’t resist adding some Internet history along with the information about hashtags.

Hashtags can be used or organize information, create an archive or directory for a group of people. But, I think hashtags are just fun. Stick together a phrase (shortened for space) and add it as a sub-commentary to your post.

Don’t take hashtags too seriously.

Telemarketers on Twitter

Do not do this!

I’ve been noticing a trend in Twitter following. Not the usual types who want to grow the amount of Twitter followers by following anything for no reason. But, businesses with Twitter accounts who then follow people as a way of introducing/ marketing/ spamming their business or service.

See below for an example. I blocked out names because it seemed the right thing to do. I’m sure you can find them if you really want to, but, why would you want to?

twitter spamvertising

I don’t often check who has followed me. There are always new followers and no one seems to say whey they followed me. (I often send a note when I decide to follow someone – because I actually do have an interest in them).

Why did this company, selling food products from the US, choose to follow me? No reason other than marketing themselves. They don’t know anything about me, what I like, where I am located and if I like gluten-free processed food products. This is no different from telemarketing which still plagues home phones no matter how long you have been on the Do Not Call list.

Just like telemarketing, this Twitter spamvertising is annoying, aimless and meaningless.

Aimless because they target Twitter, no filtering for location or anything else. Meaningless because this does not build goodwill even if it does randomly get their product attention – it’s not good attention and it will not bring good intentions.

Of course, I do not follow them back. Within a few days or weeks they will unfollow me so they have room on their account to follow another batch of a thousand or more Twitter accounts.

Maybe they make a sale from all of this. Which is why they do it. Someone will be followed and actually be local and interested in their product. This person may assume the business deliberately found them and chose to follow them in particular.

However, even if they do get one sale, is this technique worth the animosity it causes and the precedent it sets for others to use the same scheme? I think not. Why? Because the very people who use this sort of telemarketing/ spamvertising are the very people who pitch a fit about spam in their own personal (or business) accounts on Twitter, email and the old home phone too. If they don’t like it why do they feel justified in causing it?