I’m very interested in the motivation behind uses of hashtags on Twitter — I have a feeling that they are more created than searched.

I would be very interested to see Twitter Search stats — to see how many people actually look at collections hashtagged content rather than just pump them out because it seems part of etiquette. This hypothesis brewed when I saw how hashtag use breaks down of  during real big events (World Cup, election) — as people already know the context, I am thinking that they are used more as a shorthand for context than searched or monitored.

Without much hope of getting that valuable data, I have created a very short questionnaire to get some feeling for use of hashtags. Due to the responses being self-selecting I am assuming that the results will be biased towards experienced Twitter users, but we’ll see. That this may be compounded due to my network containing a lot of social media profesionals is also a worry, so I would appreciate if you would spread it as far as you can.

13 thoughts on “Hashtag usage — a survey

  1. Thought they were great at first – now not sure if searching for the word isn’t just as good. But #brum is different from brum – #brum is emphasising the importance of the location.

  2. I used the one for the 11 bus and sometimes I do it just to see if someone else has used a made up one I’ve come up with. Like #geekgasm (used quite a lot, actually!). Don’t really bother with them much, to be honest. I rarely search Twitter for a topic – usually just look for a specific person and read their tweets, then if they’re @ing someone a lot or it looks interesting, I go and look at what that person was saying. It’s a bit random really. I spose as a trained librarian I should use hashtags. I probably would if I was doing a twitter for work. I don’t use them for my shop, but it might be worth doing, say if I had a promotion or competition.

  3. I use hashtags more for searching than I did a few months ago usually when I feel like I have some catching up to do with a discussion. Sometimes it’s more about etiquette eg not wanting to repeat something from a meme accidentally.

  4. The first question is a bit subjective – one person’s ‘heavy’ is another’s ‘light’. might have been better to ask number of tweets a day AND the question you ask. that would also give you an idea of what people think is ‘heavy’.

    1. Take your point — but I think it’s also a question about how experienced they consider themselves to be, hence the subjectivity. It also reflects consumption as well as creation a little better.

      Tried to keep it as simple and as few questions as possible — average tweets in a day isn’t the easiest thing to work out or estimate.

  5. Jon – as a novice, I think you’ve just explained a whole load of new hashtag etiquette to me. I will say that since the election I have become slightly addicted to following hashtags with a political theme, and also TV progs like bbcqt – makes it all a lot more interesting and I’ve had some interesting 140 character debates with complete strangers. Whether that’s what you’re supposed to do that I don’t know, but I enjoy it!

  6. I run a private Twitter account, so I use hashtags sparingly because nobody else can use them- private accounts don’t show on search. Is it worth adding that as a question?

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