Friday, May 18, 2012

Living In the Age of the Hashtag

So much depends upon the hashtag...

William Carlos Williams never wrote that line, but today's poets cannot be that far away from it.  A homebred categorizing method brought to Twitter by its earliest users has marched across our television screens, direct mail advertisements, and computers. It seems we cannot escape the march of the pound sign and I have to wonder how many people still wonder what the hell these things are all about. "What is this strange pound sign and why is it on the bottom of the newscast I am watching?"

Hashtags have become more than the official a way to unify ourselves in one topic on Twitter, but they have also become a way to explain a frame of mind (i.e., #justsayin, #WTF, #FML). People discuss the components that make up a good hashtag versus a poor one.

An example of this hits close to home. Many people have given me grief over the hashtag #assnchat for Association Chat....pronounced "ASS n' chat". The community behind it (that is well over two-years-old), laughs it off and appreciates the hashtag as having potential randy connotations, but the truth is if we had it all over to do again, we probably wouldn't choose #assnchat for the same reason you wouldn't name your son "Seymore" if your last name were Butts.

So, what makes a good hashtag?

  1. Make it memorable - Is it the acronym of your conference? Is it a representation of what you are doing? Will people find it easy to remember?
  2. Make it short - For use on Twitter, brevity is key. 
  3. Make it official only after you've checked to see if it already exists out there - Make sure there isn't an ongoing existing chat or use of the hashtag you intend to use before you commit to it. 

Will the hashtag always have relevance? It is today's rallying cry...instead of "Viva Las Vegas" or "Go Tigers!" we have chants of #assnchat, #eventprofs, or #bluekey.

How do hashtags impact what you are doing in your organization today?

Photo credit.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, Kiki!

    Certainly, the #assnchat brings some twitter wanderers into the conversation just curious as to what exactly we're talking about, but that's kind of the idea, isn't it?

    While some abuse the hashtag idea, loading tweets with tags just to build their own traffic, they're invaluable to us at our association. With a membership that isn't made up of early adopters, the hashtag can really help let people listen to the conversations surrounding our meetings, events and other intiatives without feeling like they're committing to something they're unsure of or not comfortable with. And, to those who are active on Twitter, hashtags help them follow along and engage from wherever they might be, which helps (we hope) get them to our events in-person in the future.

    While I'm not sure any hashtag will ever be an in-person rallying cry, I do think it'll live and develop as long as Twitter is around. And your bullets above are certainly excellent guidance in using them.

    ~ jw

    PS: #kikirocks


Thanks for your comments!