How To Properly Use ‘The Hashtag’

One day, 4 nerdy dudes got together and decided they were really sick of not being able to creep on randoms’ Facebook statuses that they weren’t friends with. Therefore, they decided to create a site where people could post statuses and only statuses that anyone and everyone could view. That site was called Twitter. And today, it has changed lives forever.

Well, not really. But kind of. I guess. In a weird way.

Some of us have Twitter. And some of us don’t. Some of us use it to post our feelings. And some of it use it to post our own original content. In fact, if it wasn’t for Twitter, 98% of you would probably not be reading this right now. Some people claim they don’t like Twitter (psh, have you even tried it?). And some people claim they don’t understand it (why don’t you learn?). Some people stopped reading newspapers and only go on Twitter for the news. I mean, you don’t have to read a whole news story or listen to a reporter mess up to find out what’s going on in the world anymore. You can just read a bunch of ‘tweets’ that are 160 characters or less. And for busy people like myself who like to stay informed, Twitter is key.

However, whether you use Twitter or not, you most likely know one thing that has come from it: The Hashtag. And whether you like it or not, it is here to stay - for now. Hashtags were originally created as a way to promote content in Tweets. Once you put a ‘#’ in front of a word, it automatically becomes a link that takes you to a page where other people have hashtagged the same thing. For instance if you are posting an article about different workout plans, you could put a hashtag in front of the word fitness (ex: #fitness), and anyone who clicked on that in ANY tweet would be taken to a page with all fitness tweets listed!

People also use it to promote events (ex: event2012) and new television shows and even to bring people together to talk about a fun topic. For instance, two big ones in my world are #20SomethingProblems and #PostGradProblems. If you ever search or click on these hashtags on Twitter, you will be taken to a page with Tweets from all types of people saying things such as ‘Why am I still at work? #20SomethingProblems.‘ or ‘I remember when I used to drink on Wednesdays… #PostGradProblems.’ People also use hashtags to describe their mood/day with humor. For instance, people use phrases like ‘#NeverGettingAJob‘ after a bad interview… or ‘#LetsRage‘ on a Friday after work. It’s funny, sure. But you must be careful NOT to over do it with the hashtags.

Here are a list of rules in which one must follow when using the hashtag:

1. Hashtag use is only permitted on Twitter. MAYBE, just maybe, there will be a time when you can use it on Facebook. Like when posting a ‘hilarious’ status where you hashtag is humorous. However, this should only be done once. Maybe twice if you spread your Facebook hashtag use out by 6 months.

2. Don’t put too many words together for no reason. For example, #ihadabaddayihatemylife is a horrible way to use a hashtag. Not only is no one going to click on it (that is – if you’re using it on Twitter), but no one is going read it. You will lose followers if you constantly tweet this nonsense.

3. Do not use too many hashtags in one tweet. One or two are fine – maybe 3 if they are short and promoting an article (or 4 if the hashtagged words are being used in a sentence). But no one wants to read a tweet full of blue, clickable words.

4. Do not hashtag the same thing in everything you tweet. Perhaps you have some rando catch phrase to promote your site, your band, or yourself… But if you’re hashtagging it in every tweet, people will unfollow you (if you actually have followers in the first place). This isn’t Facebook where someone has to go through the awkward (and now extremely hard) process of defriending… On Twitter, no one knows… unless you go all hardcore and spend 15 minutes trying to find out if @friend is still following you. #notworthit (<– see proper use of hashtag not on Twitter).

5. Do not NOT use hashtags. No one wants to follow a person whose tweets are so… black. Hashtags and links provide color to Twitter pages. Not using a hashtag is fine – but not if every single tweet you write is hashtag-less. No one wants to read about your personal life… unless it’s funny… but if you were funny, you’d be using hashtags. So it’s kind of a lose-lose situation.

Comments

  1. Rachel says

    Another pet peeve of mine is using an apostrophe (ex: #what’swrongwithme) because anything after the apostrophe won’t be part of the hash tag/won’t be highlighted in the same color as the hashtag. Ugh…

  2. says

    yes, receiving your news content from people on the tweetersphere in whispergame fashion is far superior than a reputable news source. and its not that people cant understand twitter, its not that difficult of a concept, really. its that we really dont care. sure its nice to know what somebodys dog threw up this morning, or what racy comments that put politicians/athletes/celebrities in hot water… but at some point this generation (me included) needs to question this shift into connective technology. Louis CK says this better than I can so here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSSDeesUUsU just something to think about..and laugh about :)

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