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The Use and Abuse of the #Hashtag

Posted in : Social Media Tips on   By    

Let’s admit it. People on Facebook and Twitter often get carried away with hashtags, using them in front of #every #single #word #that #they #type. If you are guilty of this crime, this post will enlighten you on how to properly use hashtags on your social media accounts.

The hashtag, which is basically a pound sign (#), first appeared in 2007 in a tweet by Chris Messina. He used it to indicate places he had tweeted from, or to emphasize what the tweet was about. It is used to highlight a specific keyword in a tweet or a post. It is also used to categorize messages under one group so they can be found easily by other users. Once a hashtag starts to pick momentum it becomes a trending topic on Twitter.

Hashtags are now used for a variety of reasons. They are used to highlight events, breaking news and emergencies. Television shows and award shows use it while tweeting minute-to-minute updates as well.

You should know, however, that hashtags only work when used sparingly. There is a lot of hashtag abuse that takes place on Twitter and Facebook. Here are a few hashtag rules that you might want to implement in your next post.

  • Use a maximum of 2 or 3 hashtags in your Twitter and Facebook posts. Overusing them makes your posts look spammy. Also, there is no need to use them in every single post. You can use them to tag a certain event or subject.
  • Don’t hashtag an entire sentence (#anentiresentence). Use short tags, especially on Twitter, where you have to stay within a limit of 140 characters. You don’t want hashtags eating up your character limit.
  • Hijacking a hashtag is a big no-no. Don’t use tags that are not relevant to your post. They should always relate to your business or to the subject of your post.
  • Don’t tag words that are nonsensical. Putting hashtags in front of words like #hurrah, #huzzah, #whaddup will only annoy your followers and friends.


Remember, use the hashtag only if it adds value to your post. Do a simple test by removing all the hashtagged words. If your sentence still makes sense, and is only missing the primary nouns, you’re golden!


photo credit: Alan Levine via flickr cc