Like me, you've probably noticed the "youthiness" of those leading the social media revolution. Relax. I'm here to speak your language. So, put on your slippers, grab a cup of whatever floats your boat and let's do it. Together!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coffee, please, with a side of #hashtags...the brilliance of Twitter

In his blog post nearly a year ago GIGAOM, Om Malik gave us "A Brief History of Twitter" detailing Jack Dorsey's project with Odeo, Corp. that began on March 31, 2006.  Just five months later, the results of Dorsey's work was witnessed by Malik at a party in San Francisco on July 15, 2006. That was the gestation period for Twttr. Five months. Twttr was the original name...the logo color was a juicy green and no birds were in sight. For more detail, please check out Om Malik's "A Brief History of Twitter" http://gigaom.com/2009/02/01/a-brief-history-of-twitter/ on GIGAOM.

The project came out of @jack's desire to create a real-time, micro-messaging, no installation service to connect people from their phones thus creating social groups. A short code messaging service (SMS) to connect people right on the spot would do the trick and thus create electronically-driven social groups or even mobs. Rather than calling muliple friends to say "I'm at a great new club listening to the best band since ABBA having a drink that'll blow your socks off" you could message it to all your friends at once and BOOM, that great new club is hit with your personal social mob. So, that's pretty brilliant, right? Right. But is it the end all be all to Twitter's brilliance? Nah. It gets better.

The brilliance that started with Twttr came not too much later with invention of the hashtag and the global marketing community has us, the consumer to thank for it. And, a couple of other people like Chris Messina who came up with the idea and tweeted it at exactly 12:26 P.M. on August 23, 2007....about a year after the creation of Twttr. Read more at http://factoryjoe.com/blog/2007/08/25/groups-for-twitter-or-a-proposal-for-twitter-tag-channels/ or follow Chris on Twitter @chrismessina. Chris suggested the pound sign as a way to group people, specifically, like-minded friends, or friends that were like-minded about certain subjects. Like my daughter, Chris must have liked organizing things as a child. (My daughter actually inventoried her Halloween candy one year.) One of the first significant applications of the hashtag was by Nate Ritter @nateritter with his use of #sandiegofire to earmark his real time updates on the disaster. More on the history of the hashtag can be found here:  http://www.socialbrite.org/tag/hashtags/

So, Pat, you're thinking..."that's nice. What's the big deal for the global corporate market? How could just one teeny little pound sign be such a big stinkin' deal?" The brilliance is that marketing doesn't just talk to us any more. We get to talk back in real time. On the spot. The lowly pound sign has, in essence, turned marketing upside down. In the time you can click out 140 characters on your keyboard, you can let the people that follow you know about lousy customer service or inferior products. You'd be right in thinking, "gee whiz, we could do that with an email." True. But the brilliance of Twitter's hashtag is that we are grouped into social mobs by our likes and dislikes, if we use the hashtag as a signal. The next new beautiful innovative thing that lights your fire and floats your boat can be broadcast around the world in real time. Things that move you and things that touch you all can be shared in real time. There's no more hiding behind arcane phone systems to register complaints when you can shout it from the proverbial rooftop and a lot of people will listen. Stick a #hashtag in front of a key word and if enough people share your experience, positive or negative, it just might become a trending topic. Before you know it you have a social group. You may even start a social mob. That's what I call power to the people. Brilliant!


  1. Glad you appreciate hashtags. I'm thrilled with how they've been adopted!

    Also, if you haven't seen my recent post on slashtags, you might appreciate it:


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