Hash Tags

Posted on October 13, 2009

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Lately I’ve been thinking about the use of hash tags. If you’re on Twitter, you’ve seen them – those words marked #word. They make it easier for search engines to find web pages, blog posts, and tweets. But what do they do for us, the readers?

First, they state the context for what we”re reading. Humor, technology, science, world news, business, or gaming? Hash tags tell us. If the title mentions operating systems, the tags should tell you whether it’s about Windows, Linux, or OS X – or what combination of those.

Next, they function like ads. They pique our interest, hopefully. Alternately, they let us know that the item isn’t our cup of tea. In that sense, hash tags are a matter of courtesy. By including them, we make it possible for our readers to judge how to spend their time.

It’s not like hash tags take time. Often, bloggers have told us what tags they associate with their blog post so if we’re sharing on Twitter we have a ready-made list of tags to choose for our tweets. They’re relatively easy to use, so not using them becomes a statement. When we read posts with no hash tags, that tells us that either the poster couldn’t be bothered, or couldn’t figure out how to tag the post.

I admit that I don’t always use hash tags. I try to. Sometimes my Twitter post is too long for them. Sometimes I’m not sure what terms I should use. Often when I’m posting from my phone, that much typing is uncomfortable – and figuring out the symbols can be tough. I do try, though. I use them more often than not.

So there we are. Hash tags draw readers to your writing, and show that you care.

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Posted in: Marketing