Many years ago before Social Media, Instant Messaging and Blogging, the @ sign was used purely for email addresses. Nowadays however the @ sign is also used for what we call an @-mention.
How it started.
The first time the @ sign was used as more than just an element in an email address was in 2006 by Robert Anderson. He used the symbol to reply to another Twitter user, however not the way in which it is used today. He left a space between the symbol and username, none the less it had its desired effect and helped establish a language for communicating that is now common practice on Twitter.
When the @ symbol was first introduced on Twitter, new users were under the impression that it was more of a jargon-filled social network which put a lot of them off. Over time though the @-mention slowly started popping up in online conversations found on Social networks other than just Twitter.
Other Social Networks making use of the @-mention.
In 2009 Facebook embraced the @-mention phenomenon allowing their users the ability to mention other users in their posts. In early 2013 LinkedIn even joined the trend and Google+ did things a little differently allowing users the option to use either the ‘+’ or ‘@’ symbol.
Recently, in response to high user demand, Tumblr implemented the @-mention as well. This is not the only scenario whereby Social networks adopt one anothers mechanics and language. The ‘follow’ feature can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest. Trending topics and ‘hashtags’ are seen on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. The majority of Social networks even allow you to repin, retweet, reblog and revine.
Streamlining social networks, yes or no?
Ever since Social Networks began integrating one anothers features on their own sites, a debate has been going on as to whether or not this is a good thing. On the one hand by streamlining language across networks, each service makes itself a little more intuitive and approachable to users and, crucially, marketers.
On the other hand, social networks such as Snapchat thrive off the fact that they are completely unique in how they allow users to interact with one another.There’s no @-mentions, hashtags, reposting or following. Its just you and a buddy sharing ‘snaps’ and ‘stories’.
What do you think? Is it good practice for social networks to streamline their platforms, or should more social networks take a page out of Snapchats book and strive for individuality?
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