Hashtags: Love Them or Hate Them?

BlogHer Original Post

Hashtags: we're told they're useful when you're trying to find a lot of thoughts on a single topic such as a television show. They definitely help people participate in Twitter chats so they can see all the tweets in the discussion. And sometimes they add a meta level to a tweet.

But taking their usefulness aside, how do you really feel about hashtags?

Nieman Journalism La, a blog out of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard, posted this week about how hashtags can be a turn-off.  The article points out how Twitter itself stops the hashtag from being effective by creating an algorithm that stops new followers from finding you unless you already have a lot of followers on Twitter.

Does this mean the millions of Twitter users who deploy such hashtags to increase their reach are all wrong? Well…yes. We certainly have a history of carrying out myths in technology. Shaking a Polaroid picture didn’t make it develop any faster. Blowing on Nintendo cartridges didn’t help, either. We’ve all been told at some point that hashtags connect you to more people, and it’s been widely accepted as fact.

It goes on to talk about the times it is effective -- Twitter chats, for example -- but also that hashtags do more harm than help when applied to the average tweet.  They aren't aesthetically pleasing, and they take the reader out of the flow of your thoughts.   We all use them, and yet studies have shown that we're also annoyed by them and they can affect the number of people who follow or read our tweets.

So... how do you feel about hashtags?

hashtag

Image: Hashtag by Cogdogblog via Flickr

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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