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Social Media 101: Hashtag Tips and Explanations

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By Katie Humphrey

hashtag(MCT)—Hashtag #etiquette:

The hashtag is popping up everywhere, but using it can still be confusing. Social media pros offer this advice:

#Not #too #much: Overusing hashtags makes the person posting look desperate for attention, or kind of like a teenager. Try just one or two that are #relevant and #helpful for others who may want to chime in.

Be cute, occasionally: Hashtags meant to add context or emotion to a tweet can be entertaining—or annoying. To keep from straying into irritating territory, use sparingly. Lisa Grimm of Space150, a Minneapolis digital marketing agency, draws a parallel with cursing: “When somebody who never swears, swears, you’re like, ‘Whoa!’”

Short and sweet: #Thiswittycommentisawholesentence. Hard to read, right?? Brevity is better. “Making up your own hashtag that is too long is often too confusing,” says Becca Bijoch of Lola Red PR in Minneapolis.

No conversation crashing: Use hashtags to find conversations that interest you and, by all means, participate. But don’t add your two cents (or promote something) that’s not relevant.

“When people use popular hashtags just to get a message out? That’s a faux pas,” says Nicole Harrison of Social Nicole, a social media marketing agency in the Twin Cities area.

That #hashtag means what?

Hashtags are often abbreviated or a little wacky (brevity and humor being two pillars of social media). The insider speak can leave newcomers confused. Here’s a key to some hashtags that have made the rounds:

#tbt: Adorable childhood photos en masse?? Must be #throwbackthursday.

#ff: It’s a bit old-school now, but help your friends’ audiences grow on “follow friday.”

#winning: A remnant of Charlie Sheen’s very public meltdown. Sincere or sarcastic uses apply.

#nodisrespecttobenaffleck: One of the many gifts of Kanye West’s Twitter account. Use as you see fit.

#ootd: Fashionista selfies show off the “outfit of the day.”

©2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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