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On our website, we have a widget to share our articles on Twitter. Our marketing expert recently explained that when we write the article titles, we should include hash tags in them so they get greater visibility on Twitter. For example:

  • "New version of the iPhone released" -> "New version of the #iPhone released"
  • "Support for Obama care dwindles" -> "Support for #ObamaCare dwindles"

On the plus side, I would love it if we get more exposure on Twitter.

On the minus side, I'm worried that it makes our articles look wonky and hard to read. I'm afraid that the hash tags are going to turn off users.

Is there any data about this kind of use of hash tags and its effects on usability?

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    Personally I think that makes it look like a title from the Daily Mail (if your not familiar with that fine publication, replace it with the name of the newspaper from your country responsible for all the scandals, gossip and general crap and crud)
    – tim.baker
    Dec 11, 2014 at 16:18
  • Yes, I have personal reservations about this practice as well. I'm hoping for some data about how users would react to it, or at the very least, the experience of somebody that has tried something similar. Dec 11, 2014 at 16:23
  • I don't have any data to support this, but I can see where your expert is coming from, but its a trade off (but I do think it would work and have an effect :/)
    – tim.baker
    Dec 11, 2014 at 16:25
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    If you have a sharing widget, you could have it insert hashtags as part of that process. I.e., you could write headlines with hashtags, have them stripped out for display in the site, but have them intact for export to twitter. edit: but having hashtags in your headlines on your website proper would look silly.
    – Preston
    Dec 12, 2014 at 22:22

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I just ran across this study that says that even on twitter, using a hash tag reduces click through rates.

Twitter’s study found that direct response ads with either a hashtag or an @-mention performed the worst. According to the study, a tweet that doesn’t include a # or @ mention will generate 23% more clicks.

The article suggests that hash tags should only be used to "join a conversation".

If hash tags are distracting on Twitter, they must also be distracting elsewhere.

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  • Yes, mostly they are distracting and getting into very subjective arguments. Or conversations as the world calls it :) Its sheer distraction and if you include in your titles, it will be more like you want users to visit your twitter page rather than the website. Jun 11, 2015 at 10:44
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That looks weird. Do you imagine a newspaper with such headlines? It doesn't seem serious.

I would add another field for hashtags, and not show them in the titles (it's ok if you want to show them below the title when the full content is expanded). Then make the twitter share widget, use url + title + hashtags when composing the default text.

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I do not have or came across any data, but I had been observing this trend of adding # in the headlines on TV News Channels, and it has increased a lot.

The point here is that it will lead to twitter where one can join the conversation, express themselves and get additional links. Get popular!

But using the hashtags in the titles will encourage your users to click the link and say bye bye and not focus on the article.

Yes you might get popularity but as I said earlier, doesn't add more value than getting into a conversation on twitter. Its a different scenario if the nature of content is different.

The presentation aspect (#LoremIpsum) is what worries me. It obstructs in reading. More On the news channels and if its included in title as your question is, it will be even further.

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For an article title, no I don't think it's good to use hashtags. Perhaps you could store both titles, one as plain text and one with hashtags. If someone clicks a "share on Twitter" button, it would use the hashtag version.

Hashtags are useful for organizing similar topics, and therefor only really useful on social media.When used almost as a "design element" it makes very little sense, especially if a significant portion of your demographic might not know why #somewords don't have #spaces in them and begin with #hastags. (See... was that easy to read? :P )

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Run some A/B tests to see if using hashtags in titles accomplishes the marketing goal. From the other responses, it appears that hashtags are sometimes effective, sometimes not, depending on your audience and content. Solid A/B testing should give you a clear indication whether it works.

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