Ever since Chris Messina introduced the system of hashtagging to mircoblogging site Twitter in 2007 its popularity has grown to the point that it has been adopted by competing social media networks and has found a place in pop culture, with TV shows and music videos displaying the metadata tags.
In February of this year LinkedIn quietly introduced hashtags to their service, the feature enabled users to see commentary around #hashtags used in someone’s status updates. The introducing was to be an exciting step in creating a searchable content feed within LinkedIn, adding a new element to the social platform’s experience. However last month LinkedIn retired the hashtag mechanic. Citing
“The LinkedIn team is continually working on developing more useful products and features. This sometimes means we will incorporate a feature into another product or remove it completely.”
With hashtags being used by some of the most prominent social media platforms including Facebook, Pinterest, Vine and Instagram, it is a wonder why LinkedIn did such a quick U-turn in its decision to incorporate hashtags. However it does beg the question, how useful are hashtags outside of Twitter? The hashtag is a feature that is integral to Twitter’s identity because it functions in real-time, something that LinkedIn and Facebook aren’t really used for. However using hashtags on image based social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest seem to be more easily utilised by users as the action of searching for a topic on these platforms is more ingrained in the user experience.
While the hashtag is a great tool for streamlining content and for easy searchability, it seems that for LinkedIn it was not a match made in heaven because the search process is not an integral part of the user experience.