by JAMIE NULL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
I am not a fan of hashtags. #toohardtoread. But there are millions who are sold on the hashtag trend. I tried it out a few times. The no spaces and no punctuation rule goes against everything I was taught in high school and college. Yet, social media is a different kind of education.
According to an online beginner course, “On Twitter, the pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords.”
Basically, a hashtag connects you to other users who are also creating posts and tweets about the same thing. Believe it or not, there is a proper way to write a hashtag
Yes, even hashtags have rules. You don’t have to follow, but without the rules your hashtag won’t be very successful. Instead, it will be confusing and pointless. Hashtag.org suggests using the proper keywords to make it specific and easy to search. For example, #DoctorWho, #DisneyVacation, etc. Also, stay current with pop culture trends to get the most of your social network. The fitness world loves to hashtag about running, CrossFit and working out. Celebrity watchers love to tag their favorite actors and actress and musicians, hoping for a shout out from big names celebs. News organizations use hashtags when covering breaking news so readers can stay updated through social media. Basically every different group, from movie lovers to chefs, can hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.
For every good hashtag, there are a 100 irritating hashtags. Don’t overstuff. Readers like one or two hashtags, not 10. Avoid too many words in a single hashtag. Don’t try to write a paragraph. Hashtag.org warns users to “not get carried away with hashtags.”
So why don’t I like hashtags? I get a sense of social media overload when I read hashtags on Facebook and Twitter. I just want to scan the pages, not read a novel. Since the introduction of the trend to Facebook, hashtags have been popping up all over the place. I don’t mind businesses that use hashtags to promote their brands. In fact, marketing and promotions benefit the most from social media. But what I don’t understand is why hashtags are invading everyday life.
These are hashtags that invade everyday life. They take creativity out of social media presence. They also reduce our thoughts to a mere number sign followed by a few words, all jammed together. Can you imagine a human conversation using hashtags? We would sound like idiots. If you must hashtag, do it responsibly.
More than one million people used the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls when the 250 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria. But are they really helping? No one will ever know. Internet activism is one of the most impersonal ways to bring change. I am sure the militant Islamic group in northeastern Nigeria is not following hashtags on their mobile devices. You cannot change the world one hashtag at a time. What about the country’s problems before the popular hashtag? Activism isn’t sitting behind a computer clicking “like” or tweeting a hashtag about a crisis because First Lady Michelle Obama did on Twitter. Perhaps the best way is contacting government officials and lawmakers. Write editorial to local papers. Donate to organizations that help serve countries and towns in the midst of a crisis. Put your money and time with your click and hashtag.
Jamie Null is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter @BDTParsell.