My greatest pet peeve is the unnecessary use of the hashtag.

It is not the hashtag itself that is the problem, it is and will remain a useful tool for social media campaigns, searches and analytics, but rather the posts that are made entirely of tags.

I’ll admit that I am sometimes guilty of slightly over-zealous use of the hashtag on Instagram, mostly for the likes, but have recently taken the decision to start unfollowing repeat offenders of lengthy hashtag posts. You have been warned!

The correct use of a hashtag can be used to make a point at the end of a tweet or promote an offer or event. But when Twitter has such limited character usage I struggle to see why you would choose to waste precious characters on nothing but hashtags.

The hashtag has even started slipping into conversations. When you can’t search, retweet or `like’ a verbal, face-to-face conversation what is the point?

With social media such an integral part of PR and journalism, it is important to carefully think through the point that you are trying to make on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. A poorly thought out hashtag can go either way for a campaign. It can fall flat or it can end up trending, albeit for the wrong reasons.

In 2012, someone in Susan Boyle’s PR team came up with a poorly thought out hashtag for her album party, possibly forgetting that capitalisation in hashtags isn’t always followed. What started as #SusanAlbumParty turned into the rather unfortunate #susanalbumparty, causing much hilarity.

Whereas a well researched hashtag can be a great PR tool, help to facilitate discussions on campaigns or topics and even start trending. Carefully researching what makes a good hashtag can help to tap into the audience you are trying to target. With the hashtag such a useful tool it is likely to remain a big part of social media’s future, and hopefully the trend of overuse will slowly fizzle out and not negate the efforts that are trying to be made by PRs and journalists alike. #RantOver #YOLO