Hashtags Enter The Mainstream - or not?

Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon Hashtag Skit

Do you use hashtags?

Should you? How? Why? Now that JT says it isn't cool, should we all stop?

Comedy always has a kernel of truth to it.

First: What the heck is a "hashtag"?

From Wikipedia :

| A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol # ... Hashtags provide a means of grouping such messages, since one can search for the hashtag and get the set of messages that contain it.

So, again, should I use them?

If you are writing a useful blog post or article - or linking to someone else's article, and you are a business trying to help get yourself noticed online: YES, YES, YES! Providing hashtags, like Wikipedia says, allows you to group things. So, for instance, tagging something with #Packers is helpful to people (and automated tools like Twitter Trends) in isolating what people are talking about. So, if you are packing up your dishes moving to a new apartment, don't tag it with #Packers. Tag it with #Moving or #Apartment. Or maybe something even more appropriate to your particular post.

When should I not use them?

Ah, the wisdom of Jimmy and Justin - don't use them like they used them in their skit. You sound just as stupid in your posts as they did in their skit. #DontHashTagSentences #DontHashTagPhrases #UnfunnyInsultsAreAlsoDumb.

So hashtags are like file folders?

That's one way of thinking about it. If you wouldn't put something into a file folder called #YouAreDumbBecauseYouAreBlond then you probably shouldn't hashtag it either. It might take some practice to get things just right. If you are trying to get noticed in a flood of tweets about the Emmy Awards or an NFL game, you might try adding a relevant photo directly to your tweet - or some other information that adds value to those that might be searching. Practice, try it out. Maybe use multiple tags. Maybe do some searches to see how other Twitter users are tagging things.

So I can use multiple?

Yes, but you do want to make sure they are appropriate to the categories. "Spam" doesn't do anyone any good and is largely a waste of time.

So, what about Facebook? Can I use them there?

Yup. Even more so, since hashtags are new to Facebook, it's very important to use relevant categories for your posts. Very few people use them, and that can be a way to help promote your post. Right now, it's very seldom used by most people. "Your mileage may vary".