Monday, 9 April 2012

Twitter HashTags Don't Last

While watching a twitter hashtag stream the other week I saw this tweet by Social Media World Forum. It quotes Bruce Daisley, Director of Twitter in the UK
It stuck in my throat a little bit so I thought I'd take the time to say why.

URL stands for uniform resource locator or universal resource locator, (wikipedia).
I supposed that the "resource" would be the on-line conversation, discussion or chatter around a topic. The "locator" would be the commonly used hashtag, as a pointer (search link) to that topical chatter. I'm Ok with that part, there was a lot of chatter around the hash tag, but you can't call a search link to an ephemeral set of results uniform.

I work with a lot of people in PR, marketing and social media and am quite surprised that may don't seem to know of the ephemeral nature of the twitter hashtag.

Hashtags on Twitter don't last

I can make the point quite clear hopefully by using a simple example: This tweet of mine pictured right, from November 2011 contains the hashtag: #ImSqueezingYourHead

It's a part of a frivolous hashtag game / experiment I started to test the longevity of hastags across supporting platforms.

If you look for the hashtag on Instagram, either in-App or using a third party site, you'll get everything.
Same goes for Google+. Though there you'll get a mix of public and "Limited" shares obviously.
If you search currently on twitter you'll get nothing.
Also, as twitter and Google fell out about Google's access to index tweets you won't find much content from twitter if you search for the hashtag on Google either.

Does a hashtag link to a related topic need to last?
That's a different question, but if you'd like it to last you might want to consider putting some content on a platform where it does.

The #SMWF hastag was very busy over the couple of days and is still bubbling away currently at a reduced rate but according to my observations if people stopped using it then you'd have a hard time finding any of the content grouped together by the hashtag on twitter after a week.

Another point that is worth considering is that as people come away and write up their follow-up blog posts including a hastag in the title, is that a platform like Google+ offers up results from around the web too. So #SMWF on Google+ will give you everythingposts, people (and pages), results from the web, and even hangouts (that could have been handy).

So, is the hashtag the new URL? Well, not on twitter and I'm still watching the other supporting platforms.


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