The evolution of the #hashtag

Since its infancy, the hashtag has become a widely adopted part of our linguistics. I remember when I was growing up AIM talk was all the craze, BRB, LOL, etc. But as a society we have not only evolved with our social language but we have watched it morph into the brand language of businesses, government included.

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The ability to analyze the business of the hashtag has now crossed into the boundaries into ownership. As marketers we are continuously monitoring what works or doesn’t work on our social media channels. As people, we joke with our friends using hashtags such as, #nofilter, #wineplease but what happens in another 6 years of evolution?

Just the other day I read an article that stated “In 2015, after a total of 1,398 hashtag trademark applications were filed across the globe, according to new research from Thomson Reuters CompuMark.”

Companies are now taking the extra leap, to trademark hashtags as a way to protect their brand. For example, Pepsi registered  #sayitwithpepsi

 

Pepsi

The question becomes what does that mean for the private consumer? If businesses have the ability to trademark, can anyone? Will their be regulations in place regarding what constitutes a trademark worthy hashtag?

Whatever the future holds for the next phase of life for the soon-to-be commercialized hashtag, we will always get a chuckle out of this: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake: #Hashtag

 

 

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6 thoughts on “The evolution of the #hashtag

  1. HI Sarah, I utilized the same example of the Jimmy Fallon in my blog post as well about Hashtags. You bring up a very good point about trademarks and #hashtags. At what point will some #hashtags simply become part of our language and not company owned? That is extremely scary considering the next generation is all about phones, video and anything new.

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    • You are absolutely right! I personally only use hashtags in my own conversations with friends or family in a joking manner. Whether I am saying #sorrynotsorry or #puttingmybiggirlpantieson, it’s all in good fun for me! However, I feel as though my daughters generation is going to see more and more of media law cases over hashtag litigation. Do you think this could one day impede on free speech?

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  2. Sarah,
    Your post on the hashtag was helpful to me, so thank you! I am not an avid Twitter user, although I know that I ought to be. It was insightful to me that Twitter engagement drops simply by including more than two hashtags in one post. I can say that I personally find it disengaging when a post comes across my social media feed that includes several hashtags, with many of them being lengthy. I even came across an infographic that suggests the ideal hashtag is only six characters long. It goes on to explain that slang, spaces and special characters are frowned upon for both personal and professional use.

    The infographic can be found here: https://bufferblog-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/social-media-length-infographic.jpg

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    • Hi Bethany,

      Thank you for sharing that with me! In my research I found that two hashtags was ideal for marketers but I can see why any more than that would be a deterrent for people. From a marketing perspective, I feel as though your message gets out-shined by hashtags and links on Twitter and when you only have a few seconds to captivate your audience, it definitely is important to choose wisely!

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  3. Hi Sarah,

    What a great post! I also remember when AIM was the craze, and coming up with the best away messages made you a technology expert. But oh how things have changed….

    You make interesting points regarding trademarking and hashtags, and this becomes worrisome because I too can relate with using well-known hashtags in a joking manner. How do you think such issues could be regulated in the future?

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    • Thank you for your post and the great question! Just like with many other issues, I think the majority of regulation will be within business practices. I don’t see consumers being forced to abide by the same standards as say, Coke or Pepsi. Instead, companies and marketing personnel should see it as an opportunity to continue a conversation about their product if a consumer is using a trademarked hashtag. That’s what we want! But I do think trademarked hashtags will cause many problems in our professional lives as it relates to our competitors. We will be forced to think more creatively if the standards are too tight among more general terms. For example, one can’t argue with a trademarked #pepsirocks hashtag. It’s branded. But I could see the issue with #sodarocks. It will be interesting to see what precedent is set forth in the future.

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