Hashtag Horror: When Hashtags Get Out Of Control

Disclaimer: In an attempt to express the writer’s opinion, this blog post contains an excessive use of #hashtags. Reader discretion is advised.

Don’t get me wrong; at one point in my Twitter existence, I have used a #hashtag in a useless spot. In fact, I used a useless, redundant #hashtag this morning, and I will probably continue to do so now and again; hey, I’m only human! But a skit from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is what really opened my eyes — and I think plenty of other eyes — to superfluous hashtags.

Aside from acknowledging that Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon completely #killedit during this skit (as they do so very often), it makes you think, when are #hashtags appropriate?

What are #hashtags?

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Image Source: someecards

According to Twitter’s Best Practices for Hashtags page, the use of #hashtags is to draw attention to keywords or topics of a tweet, and more recently #Facebook, #Instagram and #Vine posts. In addition to drawing attention to a word or phrase, clicking on a #hashtag allows you to search for other posts that use the same #hashtag; search by #hashtag in the search bar.

While some #hashtags have a point, such as #hashtagging an event, trending topic or an important industry term, for the most part, #hashtags have turned into an annoyance for many Twitter users. #pleasestophashtaggingallyourtweetswithuselesshashtags (translation: please stop hashtagging all your tweets with useless hashtags), which brings me to my next point…

When should I use a #hashtag?

Now that we know what a #hashtag is, we can determine when using a #hashtag is useful, rather than #annoying.

For instance, using a #hashtag to mention an event, such as the #Emmys or the #VMAs, is a popular and valuable way to appropriately implement a #hashtag. This is one way to track what people are saying about a specific event or show.

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Another instance when a #hashtag is appropriate is for search purposes. If I were to tweet about a design post one of my talented coworkers wrote, I might #hashtag #design at the end. This is useful for people using Twitter to find blog posts and articles based on specific topics.

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And if you are “hosting” a Q&A session via social media, #hashtags are a great way to keep track of and monitor questions from different users.

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But as we all know, it’s very easy to get caught up in #hashtagoverkill…

When should I refrain from using #hashtags?

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Image Source: Digital Trends

I don’t think I have to explain why this is one of the best examples of #hownottouseahashtag (translation: how not to use a hashtag), but I will, just so we are all clear on how irrelevant and annoying it can be to see this. Using long or too many, futile #hashtags not only cause you to lose followers, but it’s just unnecessary.

For your own sake, as well as the sake of your followers, stick to two or maybe three #hashtags per post, not 30. I don’t care how cute you think your puppy is; one adjective will suffice!

Three Places #hashtags don’t belong

1. In conversations using a #hashtag hand gesture

2. A baby’s name (no, this is not a joke)

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Image Source: Huffington Post

3. Anyplace besides social media outlets, and even then, many argue that #hashtags don’t belong on #Facebook

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Image Source: MAM

#whenallissaidanddone, #hashtag with #care. #thinkbeforeyouhashtag.

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