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How about that hashtag

By Dian Vujovich

The other day, a funny thing happened to me after shopping at Target.

Like so many Target shoppers, I know the value of that company’s gift card. Primarily, it doesn’t come with strings or fees attached. That’s a great thing. Not such a great thing, however, is purchasing two gift cards, each for a different dollar amount, and not receiving the proper receipts for either. That error resulted in my not knowing who got which card. But that’s not the funny part.

The funny part happened when I phoned Target and spoke to the customer service person who asked me to read the numbers on the back of each gift so she might track/clarify the dollar amount on each.

“Read me the number that comes after the hashtag,” she asked.

“You mean, the number after the pound sign?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” she said. ”They used to call it that.”

Used to call it that? How old was this helpful assistant, anyway?

In my world, I thought the pound sign was pretty much universal and never to be fooled with. A kind of carved-in-granite worldwide symbol everyone knew. But then I remembered that it also was used as the number symbol. So much for one use.

Turns out, if Twitter hadn’t caught on the hashtag probably wouldn’t have either.
First created decades ago as a way to highlight meaning for the techies of yesterday, today’s social media users have found it a quick, simple and accurate way to connect and share information whether they are using Tweeter, Pinterest, Linkedin, etc.

Plus, the hashtag has become a formidable tool in the business world as a marketing, advertising and branding tool that among other things can be terrific viral target marketing lead generator.

While that’s all great, and certainly a sign of the times, it’s going to be hard for me to automatically think hashtag when I see that once upon a time pound/number symbol.

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