Hashtags in headlines: sticky or tacky?

medium_4306185702Do #hashtags in headlines turn you off or on when you consider reading an article/blog post? Read on for this rather interesting
result from my straw poll

Being a journalist at heart I didn’t want to blast my own opinions out on to the cyberwaves before checking my facts and others’ opinions, so in true diplomatic fashion I sent out some messages on Google Plus asking for people’s views on this topic. Although I can’t say that people were tripping over themselves rushing to respond, I did get some very interesting comments.

What Google Plussers feel about #hashtags in #headlines

What that should say is that I tend to find it tacky when I see them in other headlines. Unless it is a very compelling headline I skip over it. Hashtags have their place in social media but if everything is hashtagged then nothing is important and I am not going to search for it or read it if it shows up in the listing of the hashtag that I researched.

No hashtags in headers. The only reason we have inline hashtags is because of Twitters character limit. If you have no character limit, there is no reason to ruin the text by including hashtags. Put ‘em at the bottom.

I don’t like seeing hashtags in the actual header of an article or blog. I mean, in old school paper articles and books, you don’t see footnote references in chapter titles either. Maybe that’s not a fair reference point, but that’s what it reminds me of. I like the way Google+ automatically appends a hashtag reference to the right of the author’s name on a post. I also appreciate the fact that it’s in a light grey color so as not to compete with the black-colored header.

Have not used them in my own headlines but tend to find them a bit tacky when I see them in others and unless a very compelling earlobe I am skipping over it regardless of the hashtag.

We have never used hashtags in titles, but we did notice that the clearer a title, the better results it gets in searches.

My take on #tags is that when i see any more than 2 I usually switch off, I’m old school and if I need a cipher to work out the message – well life is too short, if I do a search and find a post full of #tags then guess what I don’t follow through and look for a better answer to my search, so my answer would be it might work in the manual but in reality it doesn’t I #hate#too#many#tags

D’ya know what I’m not sure tags make a huge amount of difference, certainly not on Twitter. If I mention something on Twitter and don’t use a tag ill still get new followers who’ve picked up the comment. And like others I find more than maybe 2 in a post irritating.

There is of course a growing major platform adoption of the humble #tag so I think it’s for me, dip the toe in and see. Definitely useful for #news!  

Who knows but hash tags can’t hurt….I use three max.

I’ve received a lot of views from Google searches when I use hashtags. Using controversial ones, i.e. body parts works a charm lol. I used to see it as tacky before, but people who are starting out need all the traffic they can get. Once you’re pretty popular, excessive hashtagging isn’t necessary.

This selection is representative of all the responses I got.

So far, we’re looking at 7 against, 3 for. I can’t do the math because I am largely innumerate, but even I can get the picture.

Hashtags in headlines suck

small_6080268246Having done this straw-poll research I was very glad to realize that it’s not just me – many other people, it would seem, see the tackiness of hashtags as cheapening what might otherwise be good content, purely because the authors are too lazy or incompetent to share their content on the SocMed and apply the hashtags manually in the right places.

Hashtags in the headline tell readers that you, as the author, can’t be bothered to share your content individually to the SocMed at large and so hope that by sticking symbols in the headline it might get picked by whatever media is drawn to them.

No doubt, this is exacerbated by the trend to use SocMed distribution resources to “save you time” because you can input one basic message/article and magically it will be redistributed across all your chosen SocMed sources while you sleep.

That’s nice, but the reality is, you can’t create “one size fits all” online content unless you want it to look like you couldn’t give a flying f*ck for a real connection between you and your readers / customers / clients / prospective clients and customers.

And it’s not just hashtags…

Just today I’ve seen another headline for, ostensibly, a respectable blog post that was a book review, containing two @xxxxx words plus a #xxxxx for good measure. Here is how it looks without the names as I’m sure if I were to direct you to the real thing I would get lawyers’ letters or more likely my kneecaps broken…

@(name of author), @(name of publisher) author speaks on #(topic)

Come on, folks. Do you honestly expect people to take your stuff seriously if you plaster it with symbols that say, “never mind my relationship with you, the reader, I want this stuff to be spread all over the SocMed and to hell with whether you can even understand  the headline with its symbols, never mind read the article that follows?”

I rest my case. Please share your views on the use of these symbols in headlines that should represent Google-friendly high-quality content online…

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family…

photo credit: halfbrown via photopin cc
photo credit: danielmoyle via photopin cc




  1. I tend to skim-read pages of headlines, posts, status updates etc, and just home in on a few that look interesting. I find headlines and titles with hashtags harder to skim through, though, so I’m less likely to stop and explore them properly.


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