One Hashtag Blunder Can Put You In A Bad Digital Neighborhood

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Maybe you're spontaneous. Hey, that's often a good thing. But you can burn yourself by being too spontaneous on social media. Let's look at hashtag usage as an example.

In a nutshell - Be careful about being too spontaneous with hashtags.

Let's break down the hashtag #paytoplay to explore what it means to different people. Lots of industries have their own whirlwinds when it comes to the concept of "pay-to-play". The issues and industries vary, but one thing's a constant - it's always a whirlwind.

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For example, in the public relations world, people in that industry can talk for days about how pay-to-play has no place in PR. But if you speak with a publisher, he or she will tell you pay-to-play refers to native ads, etc. In politics and lobbying, pay-to-play is the bane of that world, and always referred to in a highly negative context.

If you fail to remember that pay-to-play ruffles feathers and gets folks hot under the collar, you could easily think using the hashtag #paytoplay (click to see) is a good idea if you're trying to get a point across, or tie it to a concept. Well, I picked a great example, because #paytoplay is quite a cesspool, and it's not a grouping where you would want to be seen. It's got lots of suspicion-inducing political tweets, escort tweets, etc. Overall, it's just icky and negative - Think of it as a "bad neighborhood," but a neighborhood on social media. Just like in real life, you avoid some neighborhoods; the same goes for social media.

Just so you know, I was tempted to use #paytoplay in a tweet about something related to PR. Glad I didn't. And when I see a hashtag in a tweet, I immediately think the person tweeting is doing me a favor by giving me access to other tweets & tweeps discussing the issue. So, naturally, I click the hashtag because I like to be in the know. But if a hashtag lands me in a bad digital neighborhood, it irks me because it makes me conclude that the person tweeting was too spontaneous and did zero research. The advice here is - Don't do that to your followers. Yes, be spontaneous, but take a few seconds to look at a hashtag's "digital neighborhood" before using it. And do you really want your tweet seen in a bad neighborhood? One misstep and you'll send your followers somewhere they don't necessarily want to be.

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  • Brian Hughes January 29, 2015, 11:22 pm

    Great topic Alex! It needs to be talked about more. Spontaneously using hashtags is a very bad idea. There has been fails in this area, even with big brands, like McDonalds and Entenmanns.

    • Alex Yong January 30, 2015, 8:34 am

      Thanks Brian. It’s an easy-to-forget thing. I need to remind myself it only takes 10 seconds.

  • Dewald Swart February 24, 2015, 3:18 am

    I agree more people need to be educated on to use hashtags properly.

    Maybe you should write an article on how to use hash tags.

  • Mazid Umar February 25, 2015, 8:50 pm


    Nice tutorial. I thing spontaneously using hash tags is a very good idea. Greatly described all thing.Thanks to share this post with us.


    Mazid Umar

  • Raza Nagori March 8, 2015, 9:30 am

    Awesome Post Alex with Great writing Skills and it,s Very Helpful For Me

    Thanks for Sharing Such a Beautiful Post with us 🙂

  • Dina March 24, 2015, 11:18 pm

    Good point, well made Alex. Hash tags are important but we should use them carefully.

  • Rohit Kumar March 29, 2015, 3:28 am

    Thansk for the wonderful information about Hashtag Mistake.

  • Gaurav Kumar April 4, 2015, 3:30 am

    Now a days everyone is using social media not only to chat but also to promote business, product or services. Social media is mother of “Hashtags”. It is said that a tweet with a hashtag generate two times more traffic then a tweet without hashtag.

    But there always two sides of coin. You have nicely put what hashtag mistakes are. I believe that when we use hashtag first we should understand the relevancy of it.

    Very helpful and unique article. Keep doing good work Alex.

  • Learn WordPress April 14, 2015, 3:08 am

    Awesome points! Too many people use hashtags just to use them without doing research! Do your research because by using them you are associating yourself with the others that use that hashtag.

    Also, just because a hashtag is popular does not mean it will help your tweet be popular. If it is not relevant to the hashtag, well no one will care!


  • Kalee April 19, 2015, 1:39 pm

    There have been quite a few hashtag blunders over the last few years, always good to have a reminder!

  • Gaurav Kumar April 20, 2015, 9:08 am

    Thats right a wrong hashtag can not only put in wrong neighbourhood but also can ruin reputation. Thanks for nicely putting all helpful information to understand it.

  • John April 27, 2015, 5:13 am

    Thank you. i think its better to think before you click than to regret it later.

  • Daniel White May 23, 2015, 6:48 am

    Most of the hashtags I use are pretty common among bloggers, such as #blog or #blogging. Helps me find other bloggers and check out their posts.

    I’ve seen some pretty bad cesspool hashtags though on tags you wouldn’t think they would be on. For example I did a search on a hashtag last night for something and the search results came up full of spam and pornography, where the legit tweets from people were just overrun by it.

    It’s awful.

  • karan July 18, 2015, 7:26 am

    i think hashtag never become popular you but using them is become your worth adding.

  • Friendship day Picture July 26, 2016, 6:56 am

    Nice article. Really like it.

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