I’ve felt a bit like a proud parent as I’ve watched more businesses and organizations in Lakeland include the abbreviation Lkld in their names and online identities.

LkldNow, the news website I founded, wasn’t the first; I believe LkldTV gets that honor. But I was there when some early Twitter adopters decided more than eight years ago to formalize use of #lkld to identify posts about Lakeland.

Chuck Welch, the journalist who founded the Lakeland Local website, was also there. He mined his memory and some old Twitter conversations to tell the story about how the #lkld hashtag emerged:

It’s a huge thing today, but when Twitter was relatively new we struggled to find the good tweets in the noise. Hashtags were the answer. They were a way to catalog your tweet and help others follow particular topics. There’s a hashtag that became important to following news about this city: #lkld and I remember when it started.

On Dec. 30, 2008, Twitter user @Suzannadanna suggested we start a Lakeland project to post to Twitter every day in 2009. I replied we could end all messages “In Lakeland.”

Barry Friedman wondered if Lakeland and Polk County needed hashtags:

@Suzannadanna @chuckwelch Do we need a hashtag or two? #lkld #polk?

The next day we were still discussing it. Barry tweeted:

@chuckwelch Yikes. “in Lakeland” = 11 characters. “#lkld” = 5 characters. Don’t know about you, but I often push 140 characters. Like now.

The matter rested for a few days. Then on on Jan. 9, 2009, Barry posted:

LPD officers trying to catch speeders on S. Florida Ave. Near the Dixieland Post Office. Be careful out there in #lkld.

I responded (since I had no life and watched Twitter like a hawk):

@BIF Could you ask Lakeland PD officers if they’d spend a morning on Lake Hollingsworth? #lklnd or #lkld ? Just drop vowels. Right?

Barry came back with:

@chuckwelch I kind of like #lkld. It’s fewer letters, and has 4-character symmetry with #polk.

And he continued…

@chuckwelch My friends in Wilmington NC use #ilm since it’s the abbr. for the local airport. But I’m not wild about lal or klal (linder).

I was concerned that another “Lakeland” would jump on the train:

@BIF Will the other Lakelands get in the mix? Airport does solve that issue. What about #lkfl and #pcfl ? Or French way : #fllk & #flpc  ?

I wanted to get the state in the mix.

Barry wasn’t one to wait:

@chuckwelch I say we seize #lkld and let those pretender Lakelands find their own hash tag! After all, do they have an oasis of cool?

(At the time, Lakeland Local was using the tag line “A small mecca of cool” after an article from a Detroit writer praising our fair city.)

Yes, others abbreviated “Lakeland” as lkld before Barry made it a hashtag. However, his idea was so good that within a few weeks we were all using it. Eventually concerns like LkldTV and LkldNow felt comfortable enough to brand themselves with the letters.

What’s new is old, isn’t it?

Chuck leaves out that about a week later the topic of #lkld as a Lakeland hashtag came up at the first-ever Polk County “tweet-up,” held at Black & Brew. The consensus of the group: Let’s use it.

And now there are more organizations using lkld in their branding:

LkldTV founder Randy Borden said his first memory of the abbreviation was seeing LKLD written in large letters on U.S. Postal Service trucks.

As Chuck said: What’s new is old, isn’t it?