#Hashtag, From its Creation to Today


Hashtags have become an integral part of our daily lives. They are ubiquitous in social media strategies because of their effectiveness. Thanks to their popularity, several features have appeared. Indeed, it is possible to carry out searches by hashtags and even to subscribe to them. Although in the early days, the use of this sign was popular with nearly 7,000 hashtags. This time is now over. Today, there are about 125 million hashtags that are published daily!

Contrary to the popular belief, hashtags have not appeared with the Twitter platform when it was created in 2006. The introduction of this sign is much older than the social media network…


It all started with the communication protocols used for Internet Relay Chat (IRC) in 1988. The hash (#) represented a theme that categorized the different conversations. Why the hash? The answer is simple. The pound key was easily accessible by its position on the old phone keypads.

Starting in the 2000s, the hashtag categorization feature started being used in sharing networks. Its functionality aims to organize photos, content, and publications. Twitter was not the first network to integrate it. It was Flickr, a platform focused on photo and video sharing.


August 23, 2007, is a pivotal date in the history of the hashtag. Looking for the person to congratulate? It's Chris Messina, a very active man in the cybercommunity. Among other things, he worked for Uber and Google. Messina also co-founded the Molly website and the #Barcamp app, which provides an effective use for the Twitter platform.

As for the hashtag expression, we must thank the blogger Stowe Boyd. This term is an English neologism composed of hash, which means "brace", followed by tag, which means "label".

Like Chris Messina, the blogger was also looking for a way to make the community on the Web share common ideas and build relationships.



Convinced of the usefulness of his concept for the Twitter platform, Chris Messina meets Biz Stone, the co-founder and artistic director of Twitter. Unfortunately, Stone didn’t pay attention. When Messina proposed the concept, the leaders replied: "These things are for nerds. They're never going to catch on". Meanwhile, members of the community took ownership of this new sign, already experimenting with the potential of this concept. It will take two years for Twitter executives to embrace the concept and have the hashtags become clickable by users. It was only a reaction to this increasingly popular movement.

The integration of hashtags took the virtual world by surprise. Nobody predicted it. Yet, the creator of this concept chose not to take ownership of it and to allow web users to use it as desired. This certainly helped the popularity of the symbol as well as the competitors to follow the trend. As Messina says, "The hashtag was not created for Twitter. The hashtag was created for the Internet”. In addition, he claimed to refuse to create a monopoly on its use, which would have been contradictory to the will related to the concept.

However, we must wait until 2011 to obtain a French term for hashtags. This is how the term "mot-clic" appears, a proposition of the Office québécois de la langue française. This proposal made people react quickly on the cyberspace. In concrete terms, the definition is as follows:

"Adding a # before a word automatically turns it into a clickable link to a search page that contains all posts associated with the same hashtag. Hashtags allow you to find all the content related to a specific subject (#music, #flu, # Egypt, #OlympicGames, etc.)".

Two years later, on June 12, 2013, Facebook incorporates this feature. Other social networking platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr have followed their path. Hashtags are now #ubiquitous.


Hashtags are a powerful tool to promote your business, make yourself known and grow your business. Hashtag’s opportunities are not limited to these examples. It’s possible to follow a theme, create conversations and a hype around an event with them. Hashtags can also be used as a media watch tool, an aspect not to be overlooked in marketing campaigns!


You can use the keywords in your strategies and in your marketing campaigns. Keep in mind that there are different uses and types of hashtags for them to be effective.

You can:

  • improve your visibility and create a community
  • propel your campaigns by organizing social content
  • optimize your business positioning
  • reach a wider audience
  • increase commitment

Choose the right hashtag:

  • Contest: sales, promotions and special offers
  • Education: industry, brand, subject, personality
  • Events: shows, unique events, occasions
  • News: current events, natural disasters
  • Advocacy: advocacy, social issues, current topics

Despite the widespread use of hashtags by the virtual community, there are some rules to follow in order to optimize them:

  1. A hashtag with multiple words or numbers must not contain spaces or hyphens in order for it to remain clickable.
  2. The purpose of hashtags is to categorize content on the Internet. Therefore, it must be checked whether the hashtag has previously been used.
  3. Be specific when selecting your hashtags. The goal is to appear in users' search results.
  4. To be effective, your hashtags must be used regularly so that your audiences associate it with your business.


Several hashtags are banned on Instagram because they have been widely used. So their basic function is no longer effective. There are several tools available to help you gather more information about hashtags, which can help you select the best hashtags for your media strategy.

Here are some practical tools:

  • Hashtagify: To search for the most popular hashtags, tweets, and the most influential people using hashtags.

  • RiteTag: To discover new hashtags based on their popularity, by engagement rather than frequency.

  • Talkwalker: To track hashtags. It is a monitoring and analysis tool around engagement and conversations about brands.

The Instagram algorithm detects robots that identify specific hashtags used to get likes and thus increase the number of subscribers to their account. Hence, if you have a significant increase in the number of subscribers, Instagram will remove some of these subscribers to discourage you in this type of behavior.


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Pénélope Éthier
Project Manager

Group Sub Rosa