Why hashtags still matter
They’ve been mocked. They’ve been abused. They’ve been misunderstood.
Why are we still talking about hashtags in 2013?
I’ve been bombarded with hashtags in the silliest of contexts. I’ve seen brands fail at establishing them. I’ve seen peers dump them into Twitter bios and Instagram captions. I’ve seen hashtag jacking and campaigns gone awry.
They’ve spread to Facebook and have been the fabric of Instagram. They sorta work on Pinterest and label posts on Google+.
Can we ignore them? Should we ignore them?
Hashtags used consistently over time help people to find relevant information and to connect with others. This becomes even more important during breaking news events.
Twitter has extended its chronological search, allowing users to dig deeper for data. For example, the Alabama Bloggers monthly meetup uses #alablogmeet: I found tweets for events going back 4 years.
Facebook added hashtags earlier this year. Edgerank Checker found that posts with hashtags from Facebook Pages performed worse than posts without hashtags. Worse.
But even Facebook’s limited implementation of hashtag search can be useful. In checking out #sundayread, I found other Facebook users engaged in sharing their links.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of hashtags is ignoring them entirely. Tweetdeck allows users to mute them in a single column (change the setting at the top to exclude) or in all columns (change the main settings). If a hashtag such as #shutdown is trending, muting it can clean up the main timeline easily.
I enjoy a good hashtag, even though they likely cause more clutter than clarity. (Don’t get me started on Instagram hashtags which work in the app but not via Web.) I enjoy the skill involved in deploying tags correctly and the wit behind many of them. I even enjoy the unintended laughs when others do them awkwardly. #schadenfreude
Hashtags will be around a little while longer. Use them smartly to learn faster and connect better.
Share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.