Too many hashtags will hurt you.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post on social media, but there is something I’m seeing more and more of on Twitter that is really starting to get a bit bothersome.

Excessive hashtagging.

For those of you unfamiliar with hashtags, they are a simple way to put your tweet into a conversation as well as a way to make your tweet searchable. An example of a tweet with a hashtag would be: “Lalala, I have something interesting to say about #knitting.” The # sign in front of the word knitting makes that word searchable. Therefore, anyone searching the term “knitting”, will see my tweet.

Hashtags are an excellent way to broaden your scope and reach more people. However, when you have a tweet that looks something like: “#Writers will find this blog post about #writing and #publishing interesting. *URL* #amwriting #pubtib #blog” then you have too many hashtags.

Why excessive hashtagging hurts more than helps.

  • It’s ugly. Believe it or not, there is an aesthetic issue. The tweet looks ugly. It’s not eye-catching and so the reader will move on without really reading your tweet. Most people scan their Twitter stream rather than truly read it, and breaking up a tweet with too many hashtags (even if they are all at the end) is going to cause that tweet to get overlooked.
  • Google doesn’t like excessive hashtags. Google views too many hashtags as spam, and as a result, excludes those tweets from real-time searches. So while you think that all those hashtags are helping you broaden your audience, it’s actually hurting you.
  • You look like a douchecanoe. If your tweet has more than three hashtags, you look selfish. You look like you’re screaming out, “LOOK AT ME! MY TWEET IS IMPORTANT!” It’s a turn-off, and people are more likely to ignore and even unfollow you if you make this habit.
  • Hashtags overlap. Hashtags have a tendancy to overlap, especially when it comes to certain subjects. Hashtags like #knitting overlap with people using the #Ravelry hashtag. For writers, the #amwriting hashtag can overlap with a number of other writing related ones such as #amediting, #MyWANA, #pubtib and a whole assortment of others. So excessive hashtagging is still not helping you broaden your audience.

The hashtag solution.

  • Don’t use more than two or three hashtags in your tweet. Even using three is pushing the envelope a little, in my opinion. Any more and again, you’re hurting yourself more than helping.
  • Engage with your readers/followers. Are you retweeting your followers interesting tweets? If so, you are more likely to have them RT you in turn. It’s the RTs that are going to broaden your audience the most, not half a dozen hashtags.
  • Have quality content. Look, if tweet is interesting and links to something worthwhile, it will get retweeted and shared. If it’s not, no amount of hashtagging is going to get that content shared.
  • Think about your audience. When choosing a hashtag, choose with your audience in mind. Is your tweet more about #amwriting or #amediting? Are you reaching out to just #knitters or #Ravelry members in general? Remember, hashtags overlap, so if you use #amediting instead of #amwriting, chances are high that you are reaching the same people.
  • Tweet creatively. The tweet you send out in the morning can include different hashtags from the tweet you send out for your evening crowd. But don’t just send the same tweet out three or four different times with different hashtags. Refresh and recreate your message.

How do you feel about hashtags? How many is too many?

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