One of my favourite things to do on Twitter on a personal level is to sit down and watch a TV show whilst following the hashtag. Programmes like BBC Question Time (#bbcqt) and Vincent Brown (#vinb) come alive when you are watching them with the rest of Twitter. It not only becomes a place where you can discuss the issues but you can also enjoy chitchat. It really is like sharing your living room with hundreds of people but without getting crushed on the sofa.
I also love hashtags at conferences. Beforehand I can check it to see who else is going and maybe arrange to meet up with some people. During I can share soundbites and handy snippets about what’s going on and connect with other people at the same event. Afterwards I can scroll through the tweets and see what I may have missed.
Twitter chats are great fun too, these are groups that get together at a specific time on a specific date to discuss a specific topic. These can be great for getting to know new people on Twitter with a similar interest.
There are some really useful hashtags too. #jobfairy in Ireland is a great tag to follow to find jobs.
On specific days you will find amusing tags as well, these often come in the shape of a challenge. For example as I write this people are responding to the tag: #YourTextGotIgnoredBecause
I also like the way some people use tags to express how they are feeling, or to comment
And of course they have proven a great way to follow news stories, whether it’s Occupy, Syria or the various protests it’s now easy to keep in touch with the stories that matter to you.
All this is great but then there are the #tag abusers that threaten to spoil all that is good in tagging. More and more I am seeing tweets like this one pop up in my stream. I love Jeff Bullas’s blog, in fact I’m sharing this tweet really to show that even the best people can make the mistake.
This is an extreme example of hashtag abuse. I find this sort of tweet not only hard to read in my stream but when I do read it I find myself emphasising the words. It’s almost like it’s shouting at me and not in a good way. He’s taken an interesting article and pushed it out like a marketing message. Instead of making me want to click like a good tweet should it’s actually made me less likely to. If he really wanted to tag one would have been sufficient, at the end of the tweet, telling me what the post was about and making sure it came up in searches for that tag.
In less extreme cases I see people filling the end of their tweets with tags, one tag can be used effectively. In the case of the #SMEcommunity tag in Ireland for example, you have a group of people who watch that tag and will be glad of information directed at them if it is relevant. However if you use #SMEcommunity on every tweet you are going to loose their attention and you will ruin the relevance of the tag at the same time. You also only have 140 characters to be compelling so why sacrifice some of these just to add an irrelevant tag?
Hashtags are fantastic things, they can bring people together and make Twitter the wonderful place that it is. Think twice before using them, makes sure that they are relevant and add value and please, please don’t abuse them, we’d be lost without them.
Have you seen any examples of hashtag abuse? I’d love to see them.