Death of the Hashtag

Twitter recently announced they will be making changes – major changes – to their platform which includes the death of the hashtag and @-mentions. This is huge for the eight-year old social media site whose very existence is based around these two unique symbols. After all, they created these categorizing symbols and now other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have snatched them up and are using them as their own.

This hurts my heart as a personal die-hard fan of Twitter. I love the site because it does what Facebook doesn’t – it cuts through the clutter and lets you read quick posts and follow topics in a uniform manner. If I want to read about #MarchMadness, I just need to search that hashtag and I don’t have to bother with everybody else’s minutia and the ennui of their daily life details. When people talk to me, I am able to easily engage with them via the @-symbol. Without these staples I’m not sure how the flow of the site will go.

Surprising to most, Twitter is increasingly attracting a tribe of Baby Boomers and early Gen Xers. This means older folks like the site as it is too and they seem to understand and get value from it. Twitter says they’re making the change to simplify the site, but I’m hoping it doesn’t go the way of Facebook and run all of the young people off. Not that I have anything against older people, but personally Twitter was where I went to talk and let loose whereas I can’t do that on Facebook because my aunt, cousins and mom are there lurking.

Aside from my personal reasons for not being so excited about the change, professionally I know I will have to adapt and shift my approach and strategy with clients. This happens every other week with Facebook, so I’m already a perpetual student of social media. But how will I engage with people on a deeper and more targeted level? The death of the hashtag and @-mentions seems to favor the purchase of Twitter ads, more strategic keyword placement and the use of direct messaging to get to people directly unless they have another system in place to reach your audience as a marketer. We shall see how this turns out but I’m sort of reluctant about the shift.

What do you think? How will the death of the hashtag and @mentions affect your marketing strategy?

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