Many marketers have adopted the practice of inserting hashtags (#s) and ampersats (@s) directly into blog post titles, either as a postscript or affixed to native words. Is this tactic an illustration of tech savvy or ill-advised artifice? Let's examine the pros and cons of the practice.
The Case For:
1. Exposure to Twitter Search Traffic
According to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, the social network was averaging around 1.6 billion searches per day in April of 2012. You can bet that some of those queries contain or consist entirely of hashtags. By placing a hashtag in your blog post title, it's possible to capitalize on some of that search traffic and get your content found. A unique hashtag (non-keyword) is a great way to establish a discussion and track its development.
2. Control Over Attribution
For blog posts that include an interview, multiple authors, an extensive quote or reference, pre-populating the blog title with an ampersat can be a great way to ensure that credit and authorship is applied to all contributors. It's also a great way to ensure that those users see the post shared via Twitter.
The Case Against:
1. It Signifies A Twitter-Centric View Only
Today, hashtags and ampersats are most closely associated with Twitter, and including them in blog titles signifies a strong Twitter-centric view towards your blog content.
It's true that Google+ also supports hashtags and that Facebook will soon be implementing them. However, when a webpage or blog post is shared on either network, or LinkedIn, blog titles are fixed as part of the page rich snippet, meaning interactivity with a hashtag (or an ampersat) is impossible. As a result, the snippets might end up looking a little odd on those networks.
If Twitter is your primary network by a large margin, these considerations may not be significant enough to warrant not including hashtags and ampersats in the blog title.
2. It Could Curtail Sharer Customization
When a blog reader goes to share your article on Twitter, they'll find the tweet already populated with hashtags and ampersats. This could potentially alienate a user who prefers to customize tweets to their own specification, especially if they have a different hashtag in mind.
It should be noted that, in the case of Facebook and LinkedIn, sharers do have the ability to alter the page/blog title prior to completing the share.
3. Hashtag Distraction
By placing one or more hashtags directly into the blog title, you're giving Twitter users a choice between clicking that hashtag or the URL to the post itself. This can drive traffic away from your content and into a Twitter search where users will be exposed to competing content.
Whichever side of the debate you fall on, it's likely that no one will argue that a blog title should be appealing, provocative and non-misleading.
Where do you side on this issue? Have you had success with including either symbol in a blog post title? Let me know in the comments below.