Hashtags: Not Just A Pretty #
In August 2007 Chris Messina tweeted the first hashtag:
3 days later the first published use of the term “hash tag” was in a blog post by Stowe Boyd:
Over the last six years it has been honed and developed further into today’s trending world. It works well as a great marketing tool, a routine interaction about a given topic/brand, as well as providing businesses with extensive data analytics.
However, a day doesn’t pass without encountering the misuse of hashtags. It would appear that the common belief is that if you casually throw a pound sign in front of any word a connection is made. I have seen posts with a dozen hashtags built into the sentence which served no purpose and ended up raising spam flags.
Perhaps it’s the visual simplicity which leads the public to believe there are no guidelines or best-practices and ostensibly their inherent failure to grasp the concept.
Recently, I polled a group about what they know about using a hashtag. Not one could give a valid description or define its use. Even in spite of the fact that half of them actively insert random hashtags in their daily posts with zero intention of ever revisiting the subject. They had all managed to interface with the ones they saw on tv, in print or in a supplier’s post, but they never stopped to contemplate how the data is logged and recovered or its proper utilization. They were all enjoying the #birthdaypartyforBob #drinkingsangrias and #samplingbrie while #celebratingwithfriends.
There are so many dialogues on some hashtags it’s nearly impossible to find a specific post. Take #facebook which according to Google’s keyword planner has 4.6 billion monthly hits. Ironically, the number one hit for #facebook links to Twitter’s website. #Superbowl was used three million times in five hours. Facebook introduced hashtags in June of this year. It only took a month for a fanpage to emerge called “stop the overuse of hashtags” https://www.facebook.com/hashtagssuck
The word hashtag has been integrated verbally into everyday speech to such an annoying extent (even worse than hearing someone audibly exclaim the individual letters O.M.G.) that Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake made this parody video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA
There’s no question that hashtags play a vital role in breaking-news, events, and commercial Social Media. Perhaps not in personal social networks though, at least not until people are educated. Until then, I propose we use this: #warningdonotattemptthisathome