What’s with the hashtags? No really, why are people still using them to the point of banal abuse? I think, and that’s true for so many things… it all started with good intent — in the not-so-savvy-times, maybe several years ago, hashtags had a purpose. You click on one — that succinct hashtag — and voila! … depending on the social networking medium you’re on, you see a filtered list all the posts that share the same keyword. Life was good, and hashtags were serving humanity well — the usage was pretty-much in-sync with the intent.
But then it seems, there was an upsurge of clueless, mostly uncoached, marketing personnel who thought that hashtags are a great way to make their posts (or some otherwise irrelevant part thereof) stand-out. They started using them #everywhere…#literally!
The result was a plethora of hashtags, which were so generic and irrelevant, that they defeat the purpose altogether. One is better off Googling instead.
For instance, I recently came across a LinkedIn post of an IT company that went something like:
#Technology #disruption ….in #Finance and #Banking sectors..
Not sure what the poster is trying to achieve by tagging ‘Technology’ and ‘disruption’. Or, for that matter, ‘Finance’ and ‘Banking’. What is the motive? Is this some unique concept? All these terms have been around from the beginning of the Internet — so one cannot possibly expect to hashtag them and hope to lead the user to a filtered set of posts from a “niche” domain or a concept that’s being highlighted. Au contraire, you’re hindering your user experience by letting these basic, nominal terms, stand-out!
Not very far from them is a clan of these DSLR-wielding-picture-watermarking nouveau riche “photographers” who are quite active on Flickr and Instagram. These ones think that every picture has to be tagged with every known tag even remotely related to the post! Yes, monetization could be one motive in few cases. But, I doubt if it’s applicable to the majority. Anyway, this lot can be discounted because even though most of them have a technical background, not all of them do.
Coming back to the ‘IT crowd’, here is an example of a decent usage:
Notice how the hashtags have been restricted to terms that matter. Yes, IoT is buzzing domain. Yes, Ethereum is an upcoming platform. By tagging, and hence enabling the user to click on them, or SEO bots indexing them, you’re letting the interested reader in the right direction.
And that, my friend, should be the intent!