My newsfeed is becoming more and more agitating, and I attribute it to misuse of the hashtag. Ironically, the social network that limits you to 160 characters has produced more run-on sentences than all of the angsty teens on Xanga combined. This abuse has got to end.
As a public service, I’ve compiled a simple list of rules for hashtagging on Twitter. You might need to read this if a) your Twitter following is rapidly decreasing, b) tweets feel incomplete without a hashtag in place, c) random porn-bots won’t even follow you anymore. Even if you have a healthy following, you should still probably read this to ensure that your internet popularity remains intact. And without further ado…
1. Remember the practical function of hashtags.
Hashtags are not for continuing a thought, or adding decorative symbols to your tweet. Its function is to help other tweeters identify popular topics. Hashtags should not be full sentences. Treat them more like labels, and less like footnotes. Here’s a few good examples:
I can’t wait for football season! #boomersooner
Thou shalt no longer rage on Thursdays #postgradproblem
I just dropped a McRib in my lap. I’m wearing white. #fail
Notice the great tweet form–the hashtag is short (3 words or less) and they are subjects that would make sense for other people to hashtag as well. A depressed tweeter can easily click “#fail” and immediately read about other people in the world screwing up their lives. Similarly, an OU fan can click “#boomersooner” and find out who else is stoked that we’re ranked #1 preseason, or someone bored in their cubicle can click “#postgradproblem” and empathize or laugh over other yuppie misfortunes. Kapeesh?
Here are a few bad examples:
Going in for a pedicure #pleasedontcutmeasianlady
On my way to Panda Garden #moogoogaipanistheshit
It’s raining out 😦 #ihateitwhenitrains
Notice how these hashtags don’t add humor, assist in searches, or serve any sort of function whatsoever. All of those hashtagged phrases should instead simply continue on as an additional sentence in the tweet. In fact, that’s the perfect rule of thumb–if it’s a sentence, do not hashtag it.
2. Proper nouns are usually a safe bet.
…especially when they are relevant to current events. See standard examples below:
#HopeSolo is smokin hot…until you turn on the HD
OmG!!!! The #Bachelorette is finally on!
I listened to #Jump on the way to work today and now I can’t stop thinking about how I’d look if I wore my blazer backwards. Thanks @kriskross
There are some exceptions–female soccer players for example make sense to be hashtagged. #CharlieSheen does not–he has a well known twitter account, so should be referenced as such (@charliesheen). Every day, run-of-the-mill nouns need not be hashtagged, even if they are technically “proper.” Hideous examples below:
I’m so mad, #Walmart ran out of #antacid today!
YuMmY!!! My mom made #spaghetti for dinner! #garlic #knots too!
3. Contribute to trending topics.
Examples are as follows:
All Reservoir Dogs Go To Heaven #moviemashups
Harry Potter and the Sorcerors get Stoned #failedchildrensbooks
Red solo cups because blue reminds me of liberals. TFM. #totalfratmove
Stuck in a winding neighborhood due to construction on the BA Expressway #tulsaproblems
These on the other hand, will warrant eye rolls and loss of followers:
I just watched 3 hours of Maury and ate 4 Milky Ways #boredsummersororitygirlproblems
I drank like, 17 Natty Lites yesterday! #beingabadassistoughworkbutsomeonesgottadoit
4. Create a punchline, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” style…
Beware though, it takes finesse and experience to be able to pull this off. Punchline hashtags are often the greatest, but are improperly executed 85% of the time. See appropriate use as follows:
Looks like I’m on crutches the next six weeks #rollerderbymishap
and a failed attempt at humor as follows:
My roommate is currently cutting my hair #ihopeimnotbald
5. Use your head.
If there’s more hashtag than text, you’re wrong. If you feel the need to hashtag in every tweet, get over it. If you have more than one hashtag in your tweet, think again. If your hashtag is indecipherable, type in camel format or WRITE A GOD DAMNED NORMAL SENTENCE.
For further hashtag coaching, questions, or personal lessons, feel free to tweet us at @tulsa20somethng