What Happened: Twitter may be considering the elimination of @ and hashtags, according to news reports based on comments by both Twitter’s CEO and head of news. These moves may be part of an overall initiative to make Twitter easier for most people to negotiate. Though awareness of Twitter is high, its usage of @ and # tends to be more confined to so-called power-user types.
What This Means for Brands: Right now brands need to wait and see whether Twitter is in fact serious and how such a move will end up changing the Twitter experience. One can probably safely assume that even if @-replies and hashtags are eliminated, the social channel will replace the symbols with another means to reply and follow conversations around a topic will be developed—and presumably whatever is created will probably be easier than using @ and #. For example, in-line social actions, introduced by Twitter in October, may be a part of moving in this direction. The biggest implication: If such a move works, Twitter may be able to attract a more actively engaged and broader consumer user base. This would open up the opportunity to treat Twitter as more of a mass-market platform, similar to Facebook, as opposed to a channel mostly useful to reach highly engaged, more digitally active audiences as Twitter is now.
Contributing to TRENDING items are Ephraim Cohen, Sarah Gordon, Lydia Herrera and Abby Ray.