To get it out there – I’ll admit it outright – I HATE hashtags. Some people write things and use them among their writing and, to me, it makes it really difficult in reading the posts. However, I think if you took them away from others, they would go into withdrawal like they were on an alcohol or drug run. However, you have to admit, they are everywhere….
Hashtags (#) is when you use a keyword or term assigned to a piece of information or words. Then search engines pick it up when combining the websites for tags. It helps describe an item, product or event and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching. Tags are generally informal and personal by the item’s creator or by its viewer, depending on how the hashtag is used. For instance, when I was administering social media at one of my work conferences in 2012, we came up with a hashtag everyone could use to post about events, people and other happenings during the 2 day conference. After approximately 2 days these hashtags will disappear.
These commonly are confused with a tag. Tags are a bit different were they are the same as a hashtag; however, these do not disappear after approximately 2 days. For instance, when I write my blog posts, I tag topics, headings, and other important products or information within my post people can search on. These stay there unless I go back in manually and change them in the tags section.
Mashable has done an article for beginner’s on hashtags which I would read if you are new to their usage.
How long have hashtags been around?
According to Wikipedia, the hashtag has been used in technology since the 1970’s. I can agree with that as when I was coding in certain programming languages, it was used then – as a comment (I think this was use in RPG this way but I could be wrong) or as a way to perform a certain way or direct the computer to know it was a special word (ANSI C). I have also used IRC which uses them as well in what they call channels.
In current general usage terms, its was starting to be used in 2009-2010, but the term hashtag was used in 2007 and the first one was used in Twitter in 2007 by Chris Messina using the nickname factoryjoe.
Is there etiquette of hashtags?
– ensure hashtags directly relate to the topic being discussed.
– don’t add one or more hashtag to an unrelated tweet in an attempt to gain attention in search.
– don’t repeatedly tweet the same hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending/trending higher.
– don’t tweet about each trending topic in turn in order to drive traffic to your profile, especially when mixed with advertising.
– don’t list trending topics in combination with a request to be followed.
– don’t tweet about a trending topic and posting a misleading link to something unrelated.
– remember quality of hashtags used in a post or tweet is just as important as the type of hashtags used. It is currently (as of 2014) considered acceptable to tag a post once when contributing to a specific conversation.
– two hashtags can be used and are acceptable when adding a location to the conversation.
– exceeding three hashtags is seen as the absolute maximum. Be aware in doing this it raises your risks to offending the community you are posting in/tweeting about.
Warning: Misuse, or overuse, of hashtags can lead to permanent account suspensions, unfollowing, and/or upsetting the social media community. As handy as these are to use, be aware social media sites have rules you MUST follow or else the issues I’ve raised could cause them to be acted upon.
Please see the video below which is from YouTube and the Jimmy Fallon show about hashtags. This is one of the many reasons why I don’t like them…even though Justin & Jimmy make it somewhat funny.
For more tips on using hashtags, Fokal has done a quick tips on using hashtags article you should read.
Soooooo #UseHashTagsSparingly or else #TheyGetAnnoying.