Do Hashtags WorkI’ll admit it: I’ve found hashtags only moderately useful. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing a step.

What I’ve noticed in my own tweets is this: When I use hashtags, the tweet doesn’t perform any better than a post without a hashtag. In fact, sometimes it performs worse.

So I was happy to read an article that stated what I secretly believed all along: In some instances, hashtags do more harm than good. Thankfully, in Argyle Social’s “Hashtag Stuffing Doesn’t Work! #mythbusted,” Tristan Handy also details smart ways to use hashtags. Here’s a brief overview of what does and doesn’t work:

  • Using hashtags for extremely generic topics, such as #socialmedia, won’t give you an edge. So many tweets have that hashtag that your tweet will quickly get buried.
  • However, some generic hashtags have a devoted following, and in those instances, using them can work. Handy gives the example of #vegan. My guess is that generic hashtags that refer to a lifestyle instead of a large industry are likely to perform better.
  • Same goes for large conferences. So while the 2007 South by Southwest conference (#SXSW) helped Twitter take off, both Twitter and South by Southwest have gotten too big for tweeting #SXSW to be effective now.
  • Instead of using a hashtag of a large event, consider using a hashtag of a conference’s sub-event or the official hashtag of a speaker at the conference. Hashtags can be effective for smaller conferences as well. In these instances, your tweet won’t zoom off the first page like a #SXSW tweet.

These are just a few examples. We’d love your thoughts on how hashtags do or don’t work for you, so comment away!