The #Hashtag is to Social Networks What Search is to the Web
What would the web be like without search? You would open a web browser but wouldn’t know where to go. You would have to find out about interesting websites from offline sources (billboards!) and carefully type URLs into the address bar in order to access the website. You wouldn’t be able to find anything without knowing where it was to begin with. This is what social media would be like without #hashtags. The #hashtag, made mainstream by Twitter, is a way for users to find conversations, communities and shared interests on social media. Social media has become a crowded place and it can be very lonely if you can’t find others who want to talk about the same things.
Imagine being in a crowded party and trying to find a huddle that’s having an interesting conversation. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a speech balloon above each huddle that contained “#ConversationTopic”? That would save you having to introduce yourself only to have to excuse yourself a minute later because the conversation is boring. That’s why #hashtags are useful for social media. With all the content to wade through, searching by hashtag is a quick and easy way to find topics and communities of interest. #Hashtagging your content is also an efficient way to insert yourself into a conversation or community. It makes the world of social media smaller and a lot more relevant, in the same way a neighborhood is to a city.
The #hashtag for social marketplaces
Online classifieds are huge places that people easily get lost in. Even though these are consumer-to-consumer buying and selling networks, they function as a directory service rather than a social network. At Melltoo, we have built a mobile social marketplace where the #hashtag plays an important role. At Melltoo, we know that social networks and marketplaces are big and messy places, so we use the #hashtag to organize our social marketplace. By attaching a simple #hashtag to your item name, you can identify your item as part of a store, a community, an event, and even a cause.
How does it work?
If you are a small business, Melltoo offers you an opportunity to have a mobile store or mobile catalog simply with #YourStoreName. Why spend money on print brochures that are in the trash almost as soon as the customer walks out the door? What would you pay to have your catalog in your customer’s hand whenever he wants it? A catalog that updates constantly. And by the way, did you know that experts predict that by 2015, mobile will be the primary way to shop online? Here’s your opportunity to get ahead of the retail giants who are struggling to get themselves on mobile.
Would you prefer to buy something used from a complete stranger or from someone in a shared community (residential community, college or school, book club, ethnic association, homeschoolers group, etc)? Imagine you are a college student and that you go to class daily (like good students do). Wouldn’t it be great to buy a used textbook from another student and pick it up on the way to class? The alternative is to buy it from a complete stranger and drive halfway across town to get it. By adding #CommunityGroup next to your item name, a quick search for this hashtag will display all items for sale in this community.
On any given weekend in Dubai, there are a multitude of live market events taking place in the city. These events typically boast 50-100 different vendors in one place. As a visitor, you can easily get lost and miss out on items and vendors that you might otherwise be interested in. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could search for items on sale right from your mobile as you are walking past the stands at the event? This is now possible on Melltoo. By grouping items for sale under #LiveEvent, attendees can browse through items for sale before arriving, at the event, and after leaving. If you still have stuff left over, you can share your Melltoo posts with friends on social media, so they know what’s still available. If you’re friends spot something they like, they can pay for it in-app and we’ll deliver it straight to their front door for you!
Charity sales are a great way to raise money for a cause. However, these tend to be tied to a physical event and are therefore geographically constrained. What if you want to conduct a charity sale that has no physical boundaries? You can do this on Melltoo. Get participants to use the hashtag #SocialCause identify items they want to include in your sale. In this way, buyers who want to support the cause can search for items under this hashtag when shopping, wherever they may be. It also gives organizers an easy way to keep track of seller participation and gauge proceeds from the sale.
The #hashtag is a simple, yet versatile tool that users can manipulate to organize buying and selling on Melltoo. Users have probably come up with ways to use it that we don’t even know about. E-commerce 2.0 was all about bringing stores online so that shopping became easier and more convenient. However, m-commerce 3.0 is all about user experience and creating a shopping experience that is engaging and social. The #hashtag allows users to engage in buying and selling on their own terms, in ways that can only be done on a social network built on buying and selling. Welcome to m-commerce 3.0. #melltoo