We Live in a #CrazyHashTagWorld
Do YOU Hashtag?
I suspect most here are familiar with hashtags, those key words and phrases preceeded by the # sign. There’s one in the title, although one might argue this is not a particularly useful or meaningful hashtag.
Interestingly, while I just came up with that it turns out there are plenty of sightings of #crazyhashtag, but not #crazyhastagworld. Now there will be one!
You likely know, or perhaps not, that hashtags are used to categorize or identify messages, tweets, updates, photos and videos about a particular topic, say #CarlsbadRealEstate or #HowToBuyAHouse. Some popular hashtags may have hundreds of thousands, or millions, of references, while other are more limited. It’s just like searching for certain keywords on Google.
The other cool thing is they are clickable(usually), leading you to other photos, video and article about the same topic. And you can perform searches on them.
I started thinking about hashtags the other day after spending a few minutes looking on Instagram, probably the biggest and most popular user of hashtags these days although they are cropping up all over – Facebook, Activerain (not clickable unless you make them so), Pinterest (only clickable in the pin descriptions I think), Google+ and more.
It made me wonder…how many hashtags are there out there, give or take a few hundred thousand. Especially when some Instagram photos have a dozen or two.
I couldn’t find a specific answer – no surprise – but in the course of my searching I learned a few things.
Hashtags first became popular on Twitter but the most prolific users of hashtags these days seem to be on Instagram. Did you know that you can have up to 30 different hashtags in Instagram, and that it’s recommended for increased engagement to have 11 or more?
That’s not true on Twitter, in part because the 140 character limit won’t allow it and more the 2 hashtags appears to limit engagement, whereas using 1 or 2 leads to more retweets that tweets without a hashtag. Whoda thought?! I didn't as I violated that rule in my own hashtagging above.
Here’s a terrific article on using hashtags that provides lots of tips (you might wonder, should I? Yes, is the vehement answer) on using them on different sites, and the do’s and don’ts. It’s not the same for each site, say Facebook vs. Instagram.
If you are interested in a social media campaign there are tools to not only help determine what hashtags to use but how to track them. I would think that using them willy nilly doesn’t make any sense, won’t be beneficial to you, and isn’t very strategic.
It also wouldn’t make sense to use a hashtag that is actually used to reference a number of different topics or is so broad that there are millions of references in different contexts. That would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it?
All that said (and I do recommend checking out this article with links to other articles that are relevant to hashtag use and tracking), I’m curious about what others think. Are you using hashtags in any sort of meaningful way? I would think from a branding perspective it could be useful. But you would certainly want to think very carefully about what you are doing, where, why, and what you want to accomplish by using specific hashtags.
Personally I think they can make things more difficult to read, especially if they are overused. And some I see just make no sense to me at all. It’s like someone just picked a word and put a # in front. I have to wonder - does using hashtags really help!
Maybe I just don’t get it at all, which is very possible! Any thoughts, pro or con??
Thanks for reading.