Hashtags – they probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
It started out on Twitter as a great way of grouping topics and events and creating searchable and clickable links from that content. However, since their introduction to Facebook (and probably even before that) they’ve become just another way for you to sound like a dweeb on the internet…
Here’s how to make sure you don’t.
In case you didn’t know, hashtags are the words (usually displayed as links) people use in their tweets to help group them.
They can be identified by the hash symbol (#) placed before the word or group of words, e.g. ‘#SARugby’, which enables users to click on it and view other tweets with the same hashtag.
Initially this was a Twitter-only function, but the idea soon spread to Facebook and the results, predictably, have been catastrophic.
Okay maybe that’s an overstatement, but the truth is that people just don’t seem to understand the concept of the hashtag.
And for someone like me who spends a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter I can’t help but cringe when I see it being abused. This is what I mean:
“Spaghetti for supper! #yum #hungry #food #foodaddict #i’vediedandgonetoheaven #spaghetti #ilovespaghetti #supper #dinner #2013memories”
Now there are quite a number of things wrong with this status update (least of all its sheer pointlessness), but I’d like to point out a few in particular.
1. The number of hashtags in this update is ridiculous, and most of them mean the same thing anyway. Hashtags were created with the purpose of categorising topics and events and making them searchable – what you are doing with this status update is spamming.
Hashtags can be witty and meaningful, but when used like this they lose all efficacy.
2. #hungry #bored #ihatemyjob #sooverthis #leavemealone #irritated
Hashtags are not meant to be used to convey the tone of your update, so avoid using them this way.
First of all, you’ve died and gone to heaven for spaghetti? Really? Secondly, the apostrophe breaks the hashtag, making it just ‘#i’. The same goes for spaces, question marks and other special characters.
4. So, #ivediedandgonetoheaven then?
No. You might think you’re being cute by stringing whole sentences together in a hashtag but all you’re doing is making us strain our eyes to try and decipher what it says. It also has virtually no value as a hashtag anymore, so you might as well not even bother.
And then you get those people who use hashtags in their text messages… but that’s another post altogether.
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