To hashtag or not to hashtag, that is the question
It looks like a tic tac toe board, or the pound sign from a push-button telephone. The weird and wonderful hashtag is pretty much everywhere, from TV shows to the sides of buses. This post will get you up to speed with the latest hashtag etiquette, so you can take advantage of its power.
The origins of the hashtag go all the way back to IRC, which is a free real-time text chat tool that was popular before graphic interfaces (and video chat) took over. (Incidentally, there are still a lot of people using IRC.) The hashtag was used to pull together messages that all related to a certain subject. Later, Twitter denizens decided to adopt the same mechanism (legend attributes this to Chris Messina).
When you see a hyperlinked hashtag, it means you can click it to find content that relates to that subject, whether itÂs an event, show, Twitter chat, meme, or random topic. When you see a non-hyperlinked hashtag, it usually means that someone has inserted a hashtag in a platform where itÂs not recognized. ThatÂs usually seen as an annoyance by the citizens of that platform, so it might be best to avoid doing that.
Recent hashtag changes
Supposedly Facebook is going to announce that it will start recognizing hashtags soon. This is a major boon to marketers, who will now be able to extend the reach of a hashtag across two huge platforms at once (Twitter and Facebook). Flickr also just added hashtags to its iOS app. However, Pinterest’s latest update renders hashtags non-clickable.
Pro hashtag tips
- If you’re using a new/unfamiliar hashtag, go to Twitter Advanced Search and check to see who else is already using it. You can also use an external site like hashtags.org.
- Join some Twitter chats in your niche; it’s a great way to network. You can use a tool like Tweetchat to automatically add the hashtag to your Tweets and see the stream.
- Don’t use more than one hashtag in a status update unless there’s a really compelling reason.
- Remember you’re in public. Since hashtags are aggregated all over the place, remember that content you hashtag is accessible to the world.
- If you’re using a hashtag for an event, be sure to publicize it in advance, and then display it at the event on screen, and on conference materials. The first two questions at every conference are what’s the WiFi password and what hashtag should we use?
- If you want to see action around a specific hashtag from across the web, look at a site like Twubs.com, which pulls together content from a hashtag and allows you to screen content if youÂre streaming it live (to delete spam from the stream).
Are you using hashtags? Have any hashtag pet peeves you want to share with us?