Where Are Your Manners? An Introduction to Hashtag Etiquette

Sometimes, the hashtag usage on Twitter (and Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and just everywhere) feels like an Oprah giveaway, “A hashtag for you! And a hashtag for you! Here’s a hashtag, there’s a hashtag, everywhere a hashtag!”

It’s exhausting, really, so when the entire world’s mantra seems to be, “Just put a hashtag on it,” and you feel like a teenager telling your parent, “but everyone’s doing it,” how do you know when to use the #hashtag appropriately, not to mention to your benefit? Inquiring minds want to know.

The Don’ts and More Don’ts of the Hashtag

No-No #1:

Making people work too hard. What does that mean? Do not string too many words together. It makes it difficult to read, and if it’s hard to read, it won’t get read. #youfailedathashtagshardcore

However:

Known as CamelCase, stringing a couple of words together or placing a hash in front of a phrase is perfectly acceptable, but be sure to omit spaces and capitalize the first letter of each word to make it easy on the peepers. #YouWinAtHashtags

No-No #2:

If you happened to catch the hilarious Justin Timberlake/Jimmy Fallon hashtag bit, then you know what’s coming. #Please #DO #NOT #hashtag #every #word. It’s an amateur move, and again, it’s hard to read.

Unnecessary reiteration: If it’s hard to read, it won’t get read. #DefeatsThePurpose

No-No #3:

Overuse of hashtags at the end of the message. While being messy in real life is totally fine (judgment free zone), keep it in the bedroom. Ask yourself before incorporating yet another hash if it will add anything to the post — does this clarify something, add meaning, act as an appropriate trend? If the answer is no, then skip it.

This is not to dissuade you from using hashtags because they can be beneficial to your brand and/or message. Hashtags serve well to break up what can be an overwhelming amount of information online. Don’t be afraid to be funny, and feel free to add personality to your hashtagging habits. Correct spelling is cool, too (like for real, there is no excuse).

Now that you have completed Hashtag Etiquette 101, go forth, and add a hashtag. Just remember, as it is in life, moderation is key. Keep things simple, interesting, and relevant to your conversation.