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Twitter Tuesday: #hashtag #mania

18.07.2012 - 03:05

Come in number 0187123, your time is up! Sheep, Dingli, Malta

Hashtags are the way to label, sort of categorize, Tweets. They consist of one word (no gaps, apostrophes or other special characters) starting with the hash sign (#). You can search and track hashtags to keep up on Tweets over certain topics. And they are widely overused.

At first the hashtags were just something the Twitter users did. It wasn't any sort of a built-in feature of Twitter and back then only third party sites were offering any decent ways to follow and track them. Actually hashtags originate from IRC where they were used to label channels. Soon after they got a quite popular way to label and find Tweets, Twitter implemented hashtags into their system and now they can be rather easily be searched and tracked within the service.

So why do I think they are so often overused? It's #not very #easy to #read a #sentence where #every other #word is a #hashtag. They work best used moderately in the end of a Tweet. The misuse and overuse has rendered such useful hashtags as #FollowFriday (and it's acronym version #FF) plain useless noise.

Keep in mind the fact that you are trying to communicate with other human beings. Write full sentences if possible. Don't drown your message into hashtags. Use them only when really necessary and appropriate. Use only those tags that actually have some meaning for other Twitter users (not just any random words you want to emphasize).

Photo by John Haslam under Creative Commons license.

Suomeksi (In Finnish): 

Hashtagit, jotka koostuvat #-merkillä alkavasta yhdestä sanasta, ovat tapa nimiöidä eli eräällä tavalla kategorisoida viestejä Twitterissä. Niiden avulla voi seurata tiettyihin aiheisiin liittyviä viestejä. Ja osa porukasta käyttää niitä ihan liikaa. Ongelma on se, että on #todella hankalaa #lukea virkkeitä, joissa #suunnilleen joka #toinen sana on #hashtag. Muun muassa #FollowFriday (ja sen lyhempi versio #FF) on aika turha nykyään, sen ylikäytön ja väärinkäytön vuoksi. Pidä mielessä, että yrität kommunikoida ihmisten kanssa. Kirjoita kokonaisia virkkeitä, jos vain mahdollista. Älä hukuta viestiäsi hashtageihin. Käytä niitä vain kun käyttö on tosi tärkeää ja asianmukaista. Ja käytä vain niitä tageja, joilla on jokin merkitys myös muille Twitterin käyttäjille kuin vain sinulle.

Thank you for reading Twitter Tuesday: #hashtag #mania. What do you think? Do tell!

Mervi's picture

I'm Mervi Emilia Eskelinen, an artist, and a multi-talent of web visibility and branding from Finland. I help indie businesses, freelancers and bloggers to stand out online. I have 18 years of experience and a formal education in everything about web design and development, branding and online marketing.

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8 comments for "Twitter Tuesday: #hashtag #mania"

Of emotions and the Weekly Wrapup | tasselflower's picture
[...] Twitter Tuesday: #hashtag #mania - "It's #not very #easy to #read a #sentence where #every other #word is a #hashtag." [...]
Jacolien's picture

I absolutely agree. Some people just use way too many hashtags.
But I do like #FF cause it sometimes introduces me to other people/accounts I didn't know of.

Mervi's picture

Yes they do, Jacolien!

I used to like the idea of #FF, but then unfortunately many people started to misuse it. They are making these lists of people's handles (#FF @handle1 @handle2 @handle3 @handle4 etc) and they Tweet a bunch of these lists in a row. And they automate the lists, so they are not even real recommendations or anything. It's highly annoying.

Twitter Tuesday: 3 simple ways to get more followers | tasse's picture
[...] immediately. Buying followers is an excellent way not to get any real followers. Extensive use of hashtags is a great way to get spam accounts to follow [...]
Twitter Tuesday: Are you flooding your followers? | the tass's picture
[...] drowning your followers with a Tweet after Tweet is not good either. Too many updates, too many hashtags, too many ReTweets and too many Tweets containing nothing but Twitter handles of your "friends" [...]
Twitter Tuesday: The number of followers doesn't eq's picture
[...] dead weight. Not a sign of influence, but a sign of the amount of spammers on Twitter. (If you abuse hashtags you gain more and more spam followers. They love [...]
Twitter Tuesday: How to identify a spammer | the tasselflowe's picture
[...] with sharing tons of links, ReTweeting way too often, @mentioning mindlessly for no good reason and abusing hashtags has been suspended for suspicious behavior. Well, no wonder. They weren't really a spammer, but I [...]
Twitter Tuesday: 5 common business and marketing mistakes | 's picture
[...] too many hashtags - I've said it before and I'll say it again: Too many hashtags is a sure way to seem like a total tool. While many [...]

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