Has the hashtag become a victim of its own success? Has over- and wrong-use resulted in a deluge of mindless hashtags cluttering up cyberspace? This article by New York Magazine believes that the hashtag is still a great tool when used properly but that many Tweeters fail to grasp its proper function and abuse it.
It identifies 7 types of hashtag abuser, summarized as follows:
- The Hashtag Stuffer festoons each post with several different tags e.g. when posting a photo of July 4 fireworks one Tweeter wrote: #firework #fireworks #july4th #July4 #pretty #boom! #red #white #blue #1776bitches! This is apparently the most common form of Twitter abuse.
- The Verbal Hashtagger actually says the word in conversation. I think this is possibly the most annoying use of the hashtag.
- The #TheHashtagStringer hashtags a whole sentence of words e.g. #Abunchofwordslikethis
- The Gratuitous Event Hashtagger is guilty of hashtagging each event or place they attend, not just once but multiple times.
- The Hack-tagger gratuitously misuses hashtags created by companies for their Twitter marketing campaigns. The article use the example of Macdonald’s disastrous #McDStories where it asked customers to tweet “heartwarming” stories about their golden arches experience. Hack-taggers quickly latched on e.g. “Ate a McFish and vomited 1 hour later …. #McDstories.”
- The Hash-swagger or the Humblebrag-tag where too cool for school groups use event hashtags to brag about being at high-class, uber cool or prestigious events.
- The Hashtag as Crutch uses tags constantly, across multiple platforms, in a bid to be witty or clarify the tone of a post.
I have to admit I don’t think I use the hashtag to best effect and have been know to stray into category one and three from time to time!
My questions to the class are:
- Are you a hashtag users and do you fall into any of the categories above?
- Are hashtags overused?
- How can people and companies use hashtags more effectively and prevent marketing disasters like #McDStories?