What do Camels Have to do With Your Hashtags?
“Diversity and inclusion, which are the real grounds for creativity, must remain at the center of what we do.”~ Marco Bizzarri
You might be scratching your head, wondering about the title of this blog post. And you might ask in bewilderment — what do camels have to do with your hashtags? Read on, Boomer Sister, and I will explain.
If you happen to follow the Fabulous Boomer Sisters’ Instagram account, you might notice something different in how we write our hashtags. Don’t follow our account? Check it out – can you see what’s different about our tags? (While you are having a look at our IG content, why not follow us? No pressure — we’d love to connect with you there!)
Recently, my non-binary adult kid corrected my use of hashtags on my social media accounts. They patiently explained that I might want to use PascalCase or camelCase when writing hashtags.
PascalCase? camelCase? What I asked are they? I was cringing inwardly, having only recently mastered the art of the hashtag (or so I believed). I was dismayed at the idea of starting over again!
But as I considered their rationale, I realized that they had a valid point.
PascalCase and camelCase are two of the most common variable naming conventions used by computer language (code) developers. Naming conventions are not required for computer codes to run. Their purpose is to render the code easy to read for the (human) developers.
So, what is the difference between these two naming conventions and, why would you use them?
First, let’s talk about the similarities and differences between these two styles. Camel and PascalCase are similar in that they both use capitalization to separate individual words in a line of code or a hashtag.
camelCase (or Lower camelCase) is a string of code where every word, except for the first one, is capitalized. A few examples of this naming convention appear in the following brand names and logos: iPhone, iPod, iMac, eBay, and eBook.
When using PascalCase (sometimes referred to as Upper CamelCase) for programming, every word is capitalized, including the first one. Some examples of PascalCase can be found in these brands: WordPress, MasterCard, BlackBerry, PayPal, and PlayStation.
Hashtags are an integral part of Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. They help broaden your reach in those online communities. Hashtags make your content discoverable by other users who are interested in ideas and content like yours.
Why, though, would you use either convention when writing hashtags? The usual practice for hashtag use has been to string keywords together without spaces or capitals. What is the benefit of CamelCase?
It probably hasn’t occurred to you (it certainly did not occur to me) that a string of words written without punctuation can be difficult to read. This means your hashtags are inaccessible to a significant portion of your audience.
Take a look at the hashtags below. The first examples are written without any capital. The second one uses Upper CamelCase (Pascal). The third example is written with Lower camelCase. Which do you find easier to read?
- #nevertoooldtohavefun #womenempoweringwomen #progressnotperfection #positiveatanyage #endageism
- #NeverTooOldToHaveFun #WomenEmpoweringWomen #ProgressNotPerfection #PositiveAtAnyAge #EndAgeism
- #neverTooOldToHaveFun #womenEmpoweringWomen #progressNotPerfection #positiveAtAnyAge #EndAgeism
Many social media users sometimes require assistive technology to help them access media on their devices. Blind people, those with low vision, and other people often use screen readers to help them consume digital content. Screen readers work by reading text aloud or converting it into Braille. But these software applications cannot distinguish individual words in a hashtag string.
As you can see, CamelCase is important for accessibility, inclusion, and diversity. Adopting this style makes hashtags easy to read and understand not only for those who use screen readers but for all audiences.
There are other steps you can take to ensure that your social media content is inclusive and accessible. One such change is adding alt-text to the images you post. Alt-text is simply a short description of a photo or image that allows blind and visually impaired people to imagine the picture.
Want your social media to be more inclusive and accessible? Check out some of these ideas.
3 Ways to Make Your Online Content More Inclusive
Make Your Social Media Accessible
Building a Diverse and Inclusive Social Media Presence
Tips to Make Your Social Media Accounts More Inclusive
7 Ways to Be More Inclusive in Your Everyday Life
These articles have great tips to help you create inclusive spaces both online and in real-time. Some of these links are targeted to marketers, but the advice can be helpful to anyone who wants to share their ideas with a broader group. What do you think? Are they any steps you can take to be more open?