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Hashtag and At-Call: Soon to Be Things of Twitter Past?
Posted on March 24th 2014
Are you a great fan of Twitter? What do you think is the most ‘arcane’ thing about it? Well, even if you think Twitter is almost flawless, be ready to experience some change.
Going by the words of Vivian Schiller, the Head of News at this online social networking and microblogging website, these ‘arcane’ things are none other than the most well known and overused applications of this site: the at-replies (@) and the hashtags (#). Although these are the modes of communication that have helped to elevate Twitter’s popularity to a great extent, the subtle hint is that the website will gradually terminate these in the coming years. It remains to be seen whether Twitter’s 241 million active monthly users will see this in a good light or not. But, as of now, the website is all set to experiment with these applications, especially for its version for Android-based devices.
Hashtag and At-reply – Important Components of Twitter
This decision by Twitter comes at a time when the hashtag is almost becoming a part of the English alphabets or, at least, one of the most used symbols on the internet these days. At present, both the symbols, the hashtag and the @ reply, play important roles in Twitter’s overall functioning. Both of them are added automatically while you are using Twitter. The web interface of the site is responsible for this function. In fact, the @ reply helps to focus the tweet directly to the user to whose comment you are replying. The hashtag, on the other hand, comes in extremely handy to track a topic, which has already been discussed in the site earlier. Hence, both of these are extremely necessary components when you are using Twitter. However, they are expected to be streamlined by the company in near future. Recent developments suggest that it is not going to be long before Twitter eliminates hashtags (#) and @ replies.
Twitter – an Integral Part of Marketing Strategies
With every passing day, all the social media websites and similar platforms are becoming more and more relevant. People are found to be active on these websites almost throughout the day. Websites, such as Twitter, are likely to become an integral part of almost all day to day activities. Moreover, these will also play major roles in communicating messages. Hence, Twitter and similar other platforms are expected to be an integral part of the marketing strategies of different companies as well. In fact, they are becoming important marketing tools for companies looking to connect with their customers and other stakeholders.
No More Hashtags and At-replies – Then What Next?
One thing is for sure – both these applications were among the most important things in Twitter for the users. They are expected to be streamlined. So, the common question that might arise now is – then what next? How will the users perform the functions that they used to do with the hashtags and the at-replies? A confirmed answer to this has not been received yet. But the company surely plans to make the process of directing the replies and tracking the topics a more seamless task. It is likely that the @handlename of Twitter is not going to appear in the replies any more. Instead, they might be replaced by formal Twitter names.
Twitter’s Popularity to Remain the Same
Twitter’s change is going to be a significant one. For people who just can’t imagine this platform without hastags and at replies, this is going to be a major transformation. Earlier, the @ reply was necessary to link any tweet to another one. And it was used by innumerable users on a regular basis. Now it remains to be seen how the users are able to cope with the situation when both of these applications are removed from the website by the Twitter administrators. No matter what happens, one thing can be confirmed that the site is still expected to enjoy immense popularity. The large number of tweets received by this comment made by Vivian Schiller can be traced to vouch for this fact.
Initial Steps towards Achieving the Target
Twitter’s alpha version has already made the @-free activity available for the users. It is in the initial stages of the experiment. Instead of the handlename and the at-reply, a blue line now appears for connecting the two Tweets in question. It is expected that once this initial implementation of a Twitter free from the at-replies (@) and hashtags becomes successful, the company is going to take this up this on a more wide range across the platform. The result of this testing of a Twitter without hashtags and @ replies will play a major role in the next steps.
Next Focus should be on Increasing User Friendliness
Like any other change on a social media platform, this transformation of Twitter is also likely to result in initial confusion and, maybe, a bit of protest. These are not likely to impact the usage much and the popularity of Twitter is expected to remain the same. However, Twitter will now have to focus on redesigning the interface. The focus should be primarily on increasing user friendliness and enhancing the user experience.
As both @-reply and hashtags are among the most important appendages of Twitter, the decision might be not to get rid of them completely. In fact, the # and the @-replies play a major role in shaping the retweets. Hence, the decision of getting rid of these completely might get a rethink. Instead, these are going to be sent to the background. Whatever the case may be, the users can now expect a transformed experience while using Twitter and be ready to adapt to it within the shortest time possible.