this provocative article by Daniel Victor, the social media editor of the New York Times.
If you’re tagging something big like #FreeEnterprise, #SuperBowl, or #MarchMadness, “you’re calculating that there will be a lot of people searching for [this term], but not so many using it that your tweet would be overwhelmed,” says Victor. “It’s a narrow set of circumstances.”
What’s more, even if you don’t tag the given phrase, your tweet can still show up in a search for the given term.
“Does this mean the millions of Twitter users who deploy such hashtags to increase their reach are all wrong? Well…yes,” Victor concludes.
A smarter use of hashtags, Victor advises, pertains to a limited set of circumstances, like a conference or initiative:
“They’re great for gathering small groups of people; at a conference, there’s no better way to connect with other attendees and read brief summaries of sessions. When kept to a small scale, they can ably perform their service as a filter of relevant tweets (#EastVillage is more manageable than #NYC).”
The bottom line: “We need not banish the hashtag, but let’s start putting more thought into when we’re using it.”
If you get a chance, the article is worth reading in full.
Addendum (5/22/2015): The Dirty Secret in Marketing: Most Twitter Hashtags Are Useless
Addendum (5/24/2015): It turns out that back in 2009, HubSpot beat us all to the punch.
Addendum (6/10/2015): Al Jazeera Plus joins the crowd: “We’re Using Hashtags Less Than Ever.”