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Twitter Hashtags – What & How

Twitter Hashtag Tweet Social Media DO YOU “HASHTAG” OR JUST TWEET?

In a recent post, we looked at Twitter as a social media tool for writers: Social Media – Twitter & Writing. Since we looked at some of the basics already, let’s dig a little deeper and talk about Twitter “hashtags.”

By sending tweets without hashtags, it’s much more difficult for people to see your tweets and to find you. You want people to be able to find you since one of Twitter’s benefits is that it allows individuals in the community to promote other’s, and also their own, brands. Even if you’re only leaving quotes, or what you’re doing at the moment, that is your brand. For a writer, it might be a tweet about his or her book, or blog. A musician may want to emphasize their new CD or another artist’s latest release.

Hashtag Twitter Tweet Social Media

Here's what hashtags look like.

In order to become searchable, the key is the hashtag. Hashtags were started by users of the Twitter community to add specific context to tweets. Anyone who adds a hashtag to their tweet is categorizing that tweet within a focused topic. Hashtagging compiles your tweets with others who are like-minded on the topic or subject you are tweeting about. This will make it easier for people to find you and your tweets. Basically, if you’re not using hashtags, then you’re not going to reach the people you want to provide information to, or learn from.

HOW DO YOU CREATE A HASHTAG?

It’s quite easy really: Simply prefix the word with the hash symbol – “#”. For example, if you’re writing and want to talk about that topic, it would look like this – #writing, or an alternative hashtag for writing would be – #amwriting. Anyone who would like to discuss this subject merely types into the Search box “#amwriting” or “#writing” and they will see the Twitter thread regarding any tweet with those hashtags.

HEY, HASHTAG – WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

Over time, Twitter users have caught on to using hashtags, and there are now so many that the problem is knowing what all of them mean. Every day, new ones pop up – sometimes for hot topics of the day, or just something new. Don’t be overwhelmed trying to determine what they mean. I’ve found that common sense usually is the best way to figure it out.

For example, if you see a music hashtag #hiphop, chances are it’s about hip-hop music; pretty easy one. But what if you run across #nowplaying? If you type it in to the Search box, typically you can scan through the Twitter stream and quickly figure out that this hashtag is about what the person tweeting is “now playing” on their listening device.

Twitter Hashtag Tweet Etiquette Social Media

MY ADVICE ON HASHTAG ETIQUETTE

  • It’s okay to use one to three hashtags in a tweet.
  • Only use them to add value to your message, and allow proper searching.
  • Keep in my mind, however, that excessive hashtagging can be annoying, and may cause you to lose followers.
  • Don’t use hashtags on every tweet.

KEY POINT: Any punctuation mark after a hastagged word, ends the hashtag at that point. If you hashtag #writer’s, for example, the search will only yield results for “writer” due to the apostrophe.

USEFUL HASHTAGS FOR WRITERS ON TWITTER

#amwriting – One of the most often-used Twitter hashtag for writers. Used frequently while writing.

#amediting – Used when you’re in the process of editing.

#askagent – Ask a question that you would want an agent to answer about writing and publishing.

#blogging – Good hashtag to exchange information about blogging.

#books - Promoting, reading, or working on a book? This is the hashtag to use.

#WW – For writers this means “Writer Wednesday” (like Follow Friday). Use it to tag writers you follow.

#indieauthor – If you’re an independent author writing a book, or want to learn about it.

#writetip – Share writing tips and learn writing tips from other writers.

#pubtip – Tips from agents and authors regarding publishing.

#yalit – For topics dealing with the young adult literature genre.

#wordcount – Writers can share the count with other writers for accountability, or for consolation.

#MyWANA - Be sure to check out this writer’s hashtag. See Kristen Lamb’s Blog post for details.

Common abbreviations for writers:
As a bonus, these will help keep your writing tweets short.

MC = Main Character
POV =Point of View
ARC = Advanced Reader Copy
NF = Non-fiction
CP = Crit (critique) Partner
WIP = Work In Progress
PB = Picture Book
YA = Young Adult (novel)
MS = Manuscript (mss=manuscripts)

Do you use Twitter hashtags? If you don’t, does this post give you enough information to try it? 

Comments

  1. mj thank you for illuminating this issue for me, I am grateful, Jane :D

  2. #excellentpostaboutthebenefitsandpitfallsofhastagging #AmIusingitproperlyorwouldthisbeconsideredoverkill?

    Seriously, these social media posts are definitely helpful!

  3. I love Twitter and all hashtags. Great post and reminder that overwhelming my feed is a bad thing. I’m a bit of a hashtag fiend… I must back away from the hashtags before anyone gets hurt.

  4. The danger is when you start incorporating hashtags into daily life. I wrote my daughter a note and put it in her lunchbox today that said, “While I am writing today, I’ll be thinking of you.” I had to stop myself from using the #amwriting hashtag. Seriously.

    Art. Life. Blurry, blurry line…

    ;)

    • Love that story – #amwriting! Awesome. Daughter would have been, “What’s up with that, mom?”

      I love blurry lines between art and life. And I frequently cross them. ;)

    • Great story. And i can totally relate. I’m writing a novel set 30 years in the future so i invented some new slang, including the word ‘petched’ for anooyed. I got so immersed in it i said to my husband ‘i’m so petched about xyz’. Luckily he’d read a draft so he knew what i was saying. but it might confuse others…

  5. I still haven’t entirely figured out whether I should care about Twitter or not, but I do #hashtag when I tweet.

    • It may not be necessary depending on what you want to do. If you want to self-publish, or publish traditionally, you will want to build up your audience platform ahead of time, and Twitter is a great way to do that, among others.

  6. Yes I hash tag and am experimenting with it each day. Trying to keep tracks what works well! This post is great for beginners!

  7. And now you’re teaching me things MJ! I told you you would ;)
    I had absolutely no idea that Wednesday was Writer’s Wednesday, I’ll be taking part in that one tomorrow I’m sure!

    I definitely agree with multiple hashtags being spammy-looking. If I’m including more than one I try to include at least one in the body of my tweet to space them out a little and make it more natural to read for us human beans!

    • There’s a first for everything, RJ! ;) Glad you found #WW helpful.

      I usually use 1-3 hashtags. If it’s about writing, I use more than one usually. Spacing them out is a great idea.

  8. Such a resourceful post, MJ! It took me a while to grasp the concept of hashtags. Wish I’d had this post months ago! ;) Now I use them, as you suggest, in moderation.

    Another FANTASTIC one for writers: #MyWANA (We Are Not Alone), which stems from Kristen Lamb’s best-selling book.

    • Thanks, August. You’re a pro at this now. I wish I would have had it about three weeks ago myself. I learned it all on my own as well.

      Thanks for the #My WANA hashtag. I use that one frequently, but forgot it for the post. I added it earlier today, based on your suggestion and referenced Kristen’s blog.

  9. MJ thanks for this fantastic overview of hashtags. I’ll be referring back to it. :)

  10. Michael,

    You put the hash in tags. #OrSomethingLikeThat

  11. Mike- I’m guilty of not maximizing so much about social media. I just can’t keep up as much as I want to (especially without the smartphone!) ha! My tweets auto-upload with a post and I don’t even add a note to them let alone a hashtag. I really neglect my twitter account and need to be better about it. This is a great post, though! I’m going to pin it on pinterest under my blogging board for reference! :)

    • You’ve got your hands full, Tricia. Can’t blame you. It just depends what you want Twitter to do for you. You have a very large and loyal fan base. I’m still working on building an audience, if there is one! :)

      Thanks for pinning it. Reminds me, I need to get on Pinterest! :(

  12. Thanks for the info mj. Glad there’s somebody looking out for us little guys.

  13. This post just sent me running to the woods screaming, “AAAAAAGH”, with Daisy deer high-tailing not far behind! The only tweeting around here are the birds! Still, I enjoy your posts. You are so good at educating this simple country girl!

    • Don’t be scared, my friend! It’s really not bad. You can do it, no problem. You’re funny – high-tailing it with Daisy!

      Keep on reading – I think you’re going to need this someday soon. :)

  14. Sometimes I use hashtags and sometimes I do not. It just depends on the post and if I feel it’s relevant to other categories. I’ve never used the blogging one though and probably should. Your abbreviations are helpful too. Thanks for the info.

    • They do come in handy. You should use them anytime you want to cast a wider net of people. If you’re just conversing, they’re probably not necessary. I’ve learned a lot about them lately, mainly through error. :)

  15. I’ve been such a lazy Twitterer. I need to use the #.

  16. 2 weeks ago i was at the #hashtagWTF? stage.
    After some googling, i understood what they were but still didn’t really know how to use them myself. So this is a really useful list, thank you. I’ll definitely be incorporating some of these in my tweets.

    I also came across this great article, which was perhaps not so informative as yours, but pretty entertaining http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/susanorlean/2010/06/hash.html

  17. Thanks MJ for this intro into hashtags . . . still a mystery to me but with your 101 lesson, I hope to implement this into my tweets one day. :)

  18. Skip Savage says:

    As a regular user of Twitter I can assure you that hashtags are 100% unnecessary. Not needed.

    To check this out, search for something in a recent tweet. You will see all the tweets with that keyword, some with hashtags, some without. Makes no difference.

    Twitter uses a normal search engine now. Hashtags are obsolete now, but they were useful when Twitter was still figuring itself out.

    I no longer use hashtags, because they cost characters and look like crap.

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