Hashtag, You Don’t Get It
Stop misusing the #
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 13:09
On Tuesday, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” released a video on YouTube featuring Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake titled, “‘#Hashtag’ with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake.” The video already has over 10 million views.
If you haven’t seen the video, it pokes fun at using the word “hashtag” in verbal communication. For example, Timberlake offers Fallon cookies toward the beginning of the video saying, “Hashtag homemade, hashtag oatmeal raisin, hashtag show me the cookie.”
First and foremost, people shouldn’t use the word “hashtag” while talking in their daily lives. The fact that this actually happens is a clear example of how much social media has impacted our generation’s lives.
However, the video made me realize several other things about the hashtag in general. Most people seem to not understand the concept of the hashtag and how to properly use it. I am usually not a fan of people who claim to be qualified to be the “social media police,” but I feel like people need to be informed about this.
Hashtags are incorporated on Twitter to differentiate relevant keywords or phrases. When users click on the hashtag, Twitter will take the user to a list of tweets that used the same hashtag. The “Trending Topics” list—normally on the right side of the screen when Twitter is accessed on a computer—are popular hashtags.
The “Trending Topics” section can be a place for people to stay informed about what is happening in the world. Many younger people receive a lot of their news via social media, so hashtags are actually useful when used properly.
Hashtags can also be used to create traditions. For example, #np is a shortcut for “now playing.” Traditions that have also become trending topics include “MCM” and “WCW,” shortcuts for “Man Crush Monday” and “Woman Crush Wednesday.”
Many people use too many hashtags—spam—in a single tweet. The Twitter website recommends: Don’t #spam #with #hashtags and to use only 2 hashtags per tweet. What would be the use of looking at tweets about the word “with?” Exactly.
People also use hashtags to emphasize phrases in their tweets, which doesn’t make sense either.
Not only do people hashtag irrelevant words, they often use hashtags that are too long. Fallon and Timberlake focus on this a lot in their video. If you write a whole sentence in a hashtag—and this is especially true when the tweeter doesn’t capitalize individual words—#icannotreadwhatyouaresaying.
Another thing: You can’t hashtag punctuation. So when you use a contraction in a tweet, the hashtag gets cuts off after the apostrophe. Don’t do it.
For iPhone users, you can’t hashtag “emojis.” I don’t know what the function of that would be anyway, but I still see people doing it.
Lastly, hashtags on Facebook. For a long time, people used hashtags on Facebook pointlessly because they did not link to anything. Although Facebook has incorporated capabilities for people to use hashtags on the social media site more recently, I think we should keep it in its original home.
So now that you know the dos and don’ts of hashtags, we are one step closer to a more effective, happier Twitter community.
Emma is a senior majoring in jornalism.