Hashtags are Cursed?

via brandwatch.com

via brandwatch.com

I’m a huge fan, advocate and user of Twitter. I’ve been using the service since March 2010 and I’ve tweeted a couple of times since then. I wake up with it, work with it and it helps me go to sleep at night.

A recent  post in the Nieman Journalism Lab really got me thinking about hashtags. 

Now I seldom use hashtags. If I had to put a percentage on it, I’d say I use them about 15 to 20 percent of the time. It’s usually only for special things cause I’m not trying to get spammed.

I’ve never thought about hashtags being really harmful to brands or tweets in general. Victor really puts things into perspective when you use hashtags, where “most Twitter users use hashtags intending to add their tweet to a river of similar information and to expose their own thoughts to a wider, interested audience.”

He says that’s all nice and dandy, “But does that actually happen? It’s unlikely, especially for the most popular hashtags. There are many useful exceptions, but hashtags for big news stories are particularly vulnerable to mathematical futility.”

When you think about it, it has to be impossible to get someone’s attention when my one tweet is mixed in with hundreds of thousands of others, right? I’m sure some new programs could find it, but, in the big scheme of things, I really don’t think that my lone tweet is going to make an impact.

And that’s really interesting since Twitter has played off of the hashtag itself for as long as it has been around. It would work if just a handful of people were using a specific hashtag, but how often does that really happen? Think about it.

I really recommend a read of Victor’s post. It gets into the nitty gritty of what’s going on.

I must say that this post is for really serious Twitter users. Others won’t want to know.

Victor concludes with:

I believe hashtags are aesthetically damaging. I believe a tweet free of hashtags is more pleasing to the eye, more easily consumed, and thus more likely to be retweeted (which is a proven way of growing your audience). I believe for every person who stumbles upon your tweet via hashtag, you’re likely turning off many more who are put off by hashtag overuse. We need not banish the hashtag, but let’s start putting more thought into when we’re using it.”

What do you think? Are hashtags cursed?



2 Responses to Hashtags are Cursed?

  1. ellenmatis says:

    BUT! Hashtags have been shown to increase click-through rates, which overall are more important. Social media is meant to drive traffic to your website, not replace it.

    • All very true. For my blog… That’s the only reason I get any views.

      With actual Twitter trends you get lost in the crowd… Kind of overwhelming actually. And people just pile on with their sp and venom, right?

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