Hashtag it right


By Surit Doss
  • Published 16.07.18

Suddenly the word “hashtag” is being bandied about as though it is the official catchword of the day. In the teaser ad of Standard Chartered Bank, Anushka Sharma says with a wink she is opening a hashtag bank account. Using the word hashtag verbally is its worst abuse. It has inspired a hilarious Jimmy Fallon Show with Justin Timberlake that I would 
recommend all to watch (www. youtube.com/watch?v=57dza MaouX A).

A hashtag is the hash symbol used in front of a word or phrase and suddenly Facebook is rife with hashtags. People use it at random, anywhere and everywhere. They are supposed to be funny as when accompanied by a wink or a tongue out. But that is not what hashtags are meant for. There is either something wrong with the way hashtags are being used or there is something wrong with the way we understand it.

Using the hash symbol in front of a word or phrase turns it into a metadata tag or simply, searchable. Clicking on a hashtag will take you to similar pages. You can create an event page or conference page and have a conversation around it using a hashtag. Twitter was the first to hyperlink all hashtagged keywords but it was with Instagram that it really took off. And now it is being thoroughly abused in Facebook. 

One can click on a hashtag and see all the tweets and posts related to that topic. The hashtag has now infiltrated all sorts of conversations on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. So much so that an outing at the beach becomes #beach or a picnic becomes #bbq, making it meaningless.

Follow these simple rules for a meaningful hashtag. Use a maximum of two hashtags in your social media posts, but one is better if it is apt. Keep your hashtag short and simple to avoid annoying your friends and followers. Instead of coming up with ludicrous phrases define your tags in a tag directory such as www.tagdef.com. You can also search for the meaning of existing tags here. Do not put any space in the words after the hash symbol, as it will break the link. Also, no matter how many words you use do not separate them with a space. Instead, capitalise the first letter of each word.

After creating your own hashtag, you would want to hashtag your posts and the photos that you have taken. However, when you share a photo or update don’t punctuate each and every word with a hashtag. There could be three reasons for you to do that and none of them is very polite. You have not understood how and why a hashtag is used. You think every word in your sentence is important enough to search for or you think that the more hashtags you use the more followers you will get. You would be wrong on all counts.

Make sure your hashtag is unique and relevant. People just put random hashtags and keywords in their post so that they can get followers. Instagram has “Don’t show for this hashtag” feature, where users have the power to mark your hashtagged content they can now follow as something they don’t want to see. Too many of such a rating can act as a red flag and affect all your other content. Do a bit of research to find out whether your hashtag is really unique or does it have some other, sometimes obscene, meaning. You will save yourself a lot of blushes if you crosscheck on Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) before posting something.

If you are at a loss for hashtags to use in posts you could use www.ritetag.com. Type in your keywords associated to your post or tweet and RiteTag will list all the hashtags you can use to make your content popular.

Send in your problems to askdoss@abpmail. com with TechTonic as the subject line