I’m going to be honest from the start, this post is fuelled by a rant. However, the rant has a valid point behind it so it is ok. But hashtags are not ok. Hashtags are becoming a problem.
Now that Facebook has integrated the quirky little symbols, hashtags are going to be even more widespread than they are now. Which is great, isn’t it? Because we ALL know how to use them anyway. Wrong.
How many more times do we have to see #posts #like #this?
Or, as if that #isn’t bad enough, social-sharers are using hashtags that include punctuation or two words with a space between (this only ‘hashtags’ the pre-punctuation, pre-space part).
This makes me sad.
It is more than fair to say that Twitter and the rest of the social supernetworks are so young that no one really can say for certain the best way to use them to their full potential, but for me hashtags have two purposes.
- A search term to make your tweet, post, photo of your lunch more visible to the public and people you want to reach #hashtagadvice #social
- To add a little quip to your post, similar to mumbling under your breath #reallybugsmewhenpeopleuseunnecessaryhashtags
So let’s take a look at the first purpose:
Hashtags were initially invented to tag posts, metadata style, to group similar posts together and make them more searchable and reachable by people who want to read them.
They’re the perfect tool to help brands spread their message to their target audiences and markets.
Let’s take a look at an example:
“We’re recruiting! Are you passionate and willing to learn? We have jobs in our Manchester office, apply here bit.ly/job”
Where would you place those criss-crossy fellows? Here?
“We’re #recruiting! Are you #passionate and willing to learn? We have jobs in our Manchester #office, #apply here bit.ly/job”
Now, before you think I am bonkers, this is a slightly-adjusted-for-confidentiality-reasons genuine tweet.
Before choosing where to put the hashtags, we have to think about what the purpose of the post is. In this case, that’s recruitment.
Hashtagging words like office is going to target people looking at office design, perhaps. Would you search for office if you were looking for job vacancies? NB. Hashtagging passionate is asking to be grouped in a world on NSFW tweets!
So what should we do? I’d do this:
“We’re recruiting! Are you passionate and willing to learn? We have #jobs in our #Manchester office, apply here bit.ly/job”
This way you are using the recommended two hashtags for Twitter and hitting the two key targets of your post – job seekers in Manchester.
Although hashtags have been around a while, Twitter elevated hashtags into the everyday-life zone. They even slip into the spoken word now and again (I am embarrassed to admit that I have regrettably dropped a voiced ‘#awkward’ into a conversation – which ironically makes it more awkward).
Which brings us to the second use, mumbled under-your-breath wisecrack. Now these you can run wild with! #LoveMumblingUnderMyBreathInHashtags.
I’d love to hear what you think the best uses of hashtags are, or any stinky examples of hashtag misuse!