I’ll try anything once, or in this case – twice

hashtag-fail-v11

Like most people, I’ll try anything once. Talking with Chris, the storyreading ape a few days back, he enthused as only he can, (bless his heart) when I asked him about why he uses hashtags on so many of his blog posts. So, following his advice I decided to try it for myself. According to him they are totally necessary when your blog posts appear on sites like Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin, to induce people to read them – and here was me thinking it was the post’s title and content.

Well, I have used them twice now. Not just in conjunction with the three aforementioned sites, but also on Facebook, Pinterest and Stumbleupon. In each case I saw no appreciable increase in views. In fact they remained exactly the same as always.

So why do people bother with the hashtag symbol for number (#), using it in a way that was never intended in the first place? If the whole idea is to make your posts known to a wider audience, by adding hashtags in front of key words, why is it that they simply don’t appear to do the job?

There is a lot of advice on how to use them, such as this from Twitter. Despite following their advice as well as from Chris, nothing happened, advantageous or otherwise.

One thing I did note in Twitter’s case, they quite clearly state in their extremely helpful ‘how to’ page that the hashtag comes into its own when used with tweets that are trending, such as breaking news items, or those featuring the latest antics of a celebrity, airhead, moron – idiot. If that’s the case what chance do ninety-nine point nine percent of most bloggers have with getting their posts noticed by using hashtags?

The phrase – not a cat in hell’s chance, immediately springs to mind.

Like I said in the beginning, I’ll try anything once. Will I continue using the humble hashtag in this particular way? I don’t think so. I’ll just use it as it was originally intended, to indicate a number. Perhaps when someone scientifically proves that using it increases views for posts in the way Chris and some others believe, I may reconsider. But until then, as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out. In the meantime I’ll go back to relying on the hashtag free content of my blog posts to sell themselves on their own merits to everyone out there in internet land.

Sorry #Chris. I did give it a try – #honest I did.

# 😉

26 thoughts on “I’ll try anything once, or in this case – twice

  1. It depends on what hashtags you use, Jack. There are recognised ‘tags’ that encourage people to investigate tweets more deeply by clicking on any attached link for example. Also, properly used, hashtags will almost always ensure a greater volume of RTs. A few that I know work – #reading, #amwriting, #book, #bookreview, #fantasy. There are a lot more, but you need to be selective and ensure that the tweet topic matches the hashtag. I use them frequently and my tweets are frequently RT’d.

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  2. I’m with you, Jack. I just don’t get the #. I refuse to tweet, but after my marketing group insisted that I engage, I told them to go ahead and do it for me. So they are overseeing the twitter account. Where is the time in the day for all this nonsense?

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  3. I use them all the time on Twitter, Jack, and then I noticed that some people were using them in their blog post titles.

    This week I’ve been participating in a Black and White photography challenge so I inserted the hashtag in the heading of my first day’s post and noticed that my post never reached the WordPress reader list. The next few posts I left the hashtag out and all did far better in the number of views than the first one did. Someone mentioned that hashtags in blog post titles confuses search engines and the workings of WordPress. I’m not quite sure how true that is but I certainly noticed a decline in views when using the hashtag in that first post.

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  4. I think social media is a load of hype! Some I enjoy, but not in relation to my books. The hashtag #Gramochroi worked really well in conjunction with our twitter-poem competition as it collated everyones tweets in one place, and anyone could go there to read them all. I use some hashtags on Twitter and Google+ but have seen no increase in engagement. I agree with you; it may be old fashioned, but good content pulls in views, and regular fresh new content at that.

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  5. Hashtags used in tweets collect onto hashtag pages. People can then visit those hashtag pages to find recent tweets using those hashtags. Obviously, some hashtags are much more popular than others, and more or less likely to attract people to check out those pages.

    For example, if you run an Amazon Giveaway to give away a print book in a contest, tweeting a link to the giveaway with the hasthag #AmazonGiveaway gives your contest much exposure.

    The main reason to use a suitable hashtag in a post at WordPress, for example, is in case any of your followers share your post on Twitter (if you use the Twitter share buttons). So this depends on first getting your post shared via Twitter and secondly on people searching the hashtag page and discovering that tweet (linking to your post) there. In many cases, this won’t give you significant traffic. But it depends, e.g. on the hashtag.

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