When it comes to improving context and expression on social media, #hashtags can empower written communication.
For example #hashtags can provide:
They do this by allowing improved delivery of the message. Such as providing context, enhancing dialogue and uplifting an otherwise impoverished form of expression. Hashtags allow the author and the reader to reach beyond the limitations of non-verbal, faceless communication.
However, used on their own #hashtags can be:
Jasmine Henry, writing for ragan.com, suggests six areas of social media etiquette where businesses (and I think people in general) should use caution when wielding the might of the hashtag.
First, beware of using ‘too many hashtags. Overuse is annoying and can be difficult to read’.
Second, be careful of the ‘irrelevant use of hashtags.’ There’s no need to hashtag every post.
Third, proper social media etiquette requires a limit of only ‘three to four words’ behind a hashtag. This allows for improved readability.
Fourth, don’t ‘over promote a self-made hashtag‘. Be careful you’re not over stating what is obvious to the reader.
Fifth, understand the mechanics behind hashtags. ‘Be considerate of the trend in order to avoid looking like you are jumping into a pre-existing conversation without having something relevant to contribute to that conversation.’
Lastly, be sure that the hashtag relates to the trend. Avoid ‘hashtag sampling, by misusing or miscalculating the contextual meaning within a hashtag trend’
The Church would do well to not overlook the usefulness, significance and potential of hashtags. Their use allows for bridge building as the hashtag mechanics can carry the message further. One outcome suggested by a hypothetical scenario might be when a person in need of encouragement lands upon a ”trend” directing them back to the Gospel, or the sender opening up opportunity for fellowship, responsible care and/or contextual mission.
Some of us might be unaware of this ”etiquette”, since a lot of people are all awkwardly still working out how to use this technology in community. I had some idea, but it wasn’t until I looked more into it that I realised the use of hashtags is actually not a bad thing.
The fuss in using hashtags appears to involve nothing more than concerns about their overuse and the uncertainly of their usefulness, significance and potential.
These are also important points here that can be made about how this relates to pastoral care and evangelism in an online mirco-blogging environment. For instance, hashtags can avoid a passive aggressive tone when presenting shared material. In a pre-emptive sense, used properly hashtags have the potential to defuse rather than ignite misgivings about the Church, the Bible and God.
As long as the mechanics are understood and not hindered by their programmers or our own poorly considered words, the hashtag allows a way for us to reinforce the context of what we are trying to say. As result we have a way to overcome the limitations of faceless-expressionless communication and the obstacle of misunderstandings unique to social media.
Henry, J. 2012 The 6 most irritating ways to use hashtags on Twitter, sourced from ragan.com