…especially when playing the “How Many Likes Did I Get?” game. There was a time when word of mouth and good networking skills would get a good conversation going about you. Or someone else.

Lately though, with metadata and hashtags floating around cyberspace, finding topics of discussion has become less… cumbersome (because we really needed another reason to ruin good old-fashioned conversations). For those of us who have not yet been blessed with common sense and the power of using Google, hashtags are essentially labels made for a topic of discussion or visual post either by the creator or by the user, depending on the system.

Hashtags first surfaced when Twitter user Chris Messina first brought attention to hashtags with his tweet:

When Should You Use Hashtags:

  1. When you want to create a trend (assuming you have a large network)
  2. When you want to measure the rise and fall of trends
  3. When you want to associate your work with a certain collective (to make it easier to find, or to attach a status to it)
  4. When you want to create and promote your own product, service or idea.

When Should You NOT Use Hashtags:

  1. When you’re trying to fit in – random hashtags just because your friends are doing it? I think not.
  2. While posting an essay – lengthy hashtags are abhorrence and a violation of the senses.
  3. When your grammar leaves much to be desired – and then you decide to hashtag words like “the”, “and”, other conjunctions or even worse, #bye.
  4. When you’re speaking – really, please don’t. PLEASE DON’T.
  5. On paper. In a book. That is only read by you. – Unless you want to redefine the term “forever alone”.

How to use hashtags:

  1. Don’t use too many hashtags in a single post. Using more than two (if you really have to, stretch it to three hashtags) per post may end up annoying or confusing your followers.
  2. Use a hashtag to add value or context to your message.
  3. Only use hashtags that are relevant to the topic of the post.

Hashtagging done RIGHT:

A while ago we Tweeted about the sandstorm in Dubai. Here’s what our post looked like:

Our tweet got noticed by the digital platform of the nation’s leading news daily Gulf News and we sent out a thank you Tweet in return:

Just an example of successful hashtag use. You’re welcome. #tootingourownhorn

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