Have you noticed some changes to the “trending box” on the Twitter homepage over the last few months? This screenshot from June 6, 2017, shows that hashtags seem to be disappearing. Of the ten trending items, only four have hashtags! There have been plenty of predictions over the past three years that Twitter would do away with the hashtag for a cleaner look to “make Twitter more user-friendly and appealing to the uninitiated.”
Buzzfeed first reported the discussion of removing the hashtag back in March of 2014 at the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference in Denver. Twitter’s head of news, Vivian Schiller said in her address that hashtags are “arcane…By bringing the content of Twitter forward and pushing the scaffolding of the language of Twitter to the background, we can increase high-quality interactions and make it more likely that new or casual users will find this service as indispensable as our existing core users do. And we took initial steps in that direction with the introduction of media forward timelines and in-line social actions in October, and we’re already starting to see early signs that those initiatives are working well.”
Speculation of the death of the hashtag continued in 2015 when Twitter released a data backed report that “found that direct response ads with either a hashtag or an @-mention performed the worst. According to the study, “a tweet that doesn’t include a # or @ mention will generate 23% more clicks.’” The head of social media business marketing of Twitter, Anne Mercogliano, explained, “If you’re trying to join a conversation, you should absolutely use a hashtag… But for driving for a specific click that you’re looking for off Twitter, the less noise that you put in between, the better.”
Twitter is retiring the hashtag due to their plummeting stock; it has been on a sharp decline since 2014. As you can see from the provided chart of Twitter’s stock history, at the time the 2015 research came out, Twitter shares dropped 27%. Twitter is trying to make changes to fix their downward trend since they went public by researching effective tactics for marketers and adapting the platform for us.
On the other hand, Facebook’s chart is skewed opposite of Twitter’s. Facebook has been on the rise since they went public. Twitter is trying to clean up its look to mimic Facebook and become a more profitable company. In 2016, Twitter adjusted its algorithms to be more like Facebook. Simplifying its appearance and usability-factor is how Twitter hopes to engage new and “casual” users. Time will only tell if this is effective; it is taking years for Twitter to kill its hashtag culture.
No matter the reason, marketing on Twitter will change greatly with the extinction of its hashtag. How will it affect your posts? Keep reading our articles for tips on how to navigate through the ever-changing land of social media marketing.