Hashtag please stop

“So this SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish bar, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor”

This is supposed to be a joke. But sometimes I wonder.

WARNING: This post is going to feature my pragmatism in full force. Stop reading if you have a deep love of hashtags.

Hashtags were supposed to serve, effectively, as inline versions of the tags that started showing up on all the major blogging platforms: a way of categorizing content to make searching for related content easier and more intuitive. For lengthy blog posts that touched upon a wide breadth of topics, tags were an ingenious method of ensuring that you could always find what you were looking for later.

This, of course, saw a natural extension into the phenomenon of social networking with the advent of hashtags. Now you could inline those very same annotations, bringing the content more front-and-center while simultaneously retaining the ability to filter content on demand.

The use of hashtags came particularly in handy recently, as The Lady and I celebrated our wedding and photos started popping up all over Instagram. The associated hashtag, #quinnwitz, gave us an instant filter for all the pictures of our wedding being taken by our awesome friends.

That’s an example of, in my humble opinion, how hashtags should be used. But I suppose, in retrospect, I should have seen this coming.


#hashtag ##meta

For a service like Twitter that mandates a maximum of 140 characters, I am particularly loathe to follow anyone whose posts consist of more hashtag content than actual content. Seriously: if it requires more metadata to explain your data than you have actual data, you’re essentially saying that your abstract is longer than your main paper.

In this case, either this person really, really loves hashtags, or they’re just trying to turn their post into clickbait, SEO-style; see my opening “joke.”

The latter case, to me, comes across as Exhibit A of this Oatmeal comic (though replace “Facebook Likes” with “Hashtags”): the authors choosing to annotate their content in such a way that it will be picked up by as many automated web crawlers and indexers as possible, rather than, oh I don’t know, posting awesome stuff. It reaches a point of saturation where literally any arbitrary search term will result in a hit.

Seriously. Your tweet / instagram / facebook post is not 53-hashtags cool. It’s 3-5 hashtags cool, period.


Simple rule of thumb: if your hashtags have a bigger character count than your content, re-evaluate your strategy. Or don’t! It’s really up to you, I suppose. Just don’t be upset if I scroll past your posts.


About Shannon Quinn

Oh hai!
This entry was posted in Internet, random, The Lady and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Hashtag please stop

  1. Pingback: The toxicity of Facebook | theatre of consciousness

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