Just Say No To Useless Hashtags. Please

There's no escaping it now, sadly--hashtags are even more of a thing than they used to be, now that Facebook starting supporting them. I personally was hoping that hashtags would start to disappear, or at least be left to teens sharing Throwback Thursday photos (ok, I admit I, too, am guilty of occasional Throwback Thursday photos). Sadly, though, marketers have embraced hashtags without understanding what they're supposed to be, and the result is Tweets like this one: 

I don't get what people don't get about hashtags. Hashtags are supposed to be a way of tagging things so that they are easily searchable and can group all Tweets, posts, photos, etc about that same topic together for the sake of creating a conversation of sorts. So say you're watching Mad Men--searching #madmen on Twitter or, I guess now, Facebook, lets you see realtime reactions to the show while you're watching, therefore, at least in theory, adding something to your watching experience.

But way too many people seem to think that hashtags are merely something cool you throw into a tweet, like seasoning or random bolding of a word. The more, the better, with no rhyme or reason behind which words are tagged. Sadly, there are social media "experts" instructing their clients that this is the way you Tweet effectively or something and there are plenty of huge brands doing it.

Here's the thing about hashtags: before you just throw that pound sign in front of a random word, think about what you're looking to accomplish. Is what you're tweeting about something associated with that particular hashtag--say, an annual meeting or TV show or news event? Then fine--add it. Are you trying to reach a particular audience--like community managers (#cmgr) or association people (#assnchat)? Great--have at it. But using the Weather Bug example above, if you're just trying to make your message look "tweety" or something and adding a bunch of random hashtags that don't help the user in any way (are people likely searching tweets tagged #severe?)--please just don't. 

In case "because it's annoying" isn't sufficient reason not to over-use hashtags, here are some more reasons rampant hashtagging is bad:

  • Adding a bunch of hashtags to a tweet just because not only makes your message LESS searchable (for example, tagging "#heart #attack" mens that people searching "heart attack" won't see your tweet/post. 
  • More than two is too many. And not just according to me; Twitter's best practices recommend using no more than two hashtags per tweet.

What other arguments against hashtag abuse can you add? Or, am I wrong and the more the merrier is actually better when it comes to hashtags?