This week on Wednesday Wing we are looking at Hashtags from a different view.
Please welcome back our fountain of Twitter Knowledge @TerryTyler4
Hashtags: How to use them—and how not to
I’ve been using Twitter for so long that I sometimes forget that not everyone understands the purposes of hashtags—it’s easy to forget that every day new people arrive at the site and wonder what the hell they are, too—just like I did!
No, they’re not just random, and neither are they a magic secret that everyone knows about except you (which is what I thought at first….). They have seven basic uses, as far as I can see, which I will outline here:
Expanding the reach of your tweets
I’ve talked before about the blog share hashtags such as #SundayBlogShare and #TuesdayBookBlog. It’s not all about blogs, though; there’s also #FolkloreThursday, #MusicMonday, #MondayMotivation #FridayReads, #WordlessWednesday and so many more, which can be used for blog posts and other stuff, too. The idea is that you retweet others on the hashtag (just click on it, go to ‘Accounts’ and click on ‘Tweets’, and you see them all), and they retweet you, thus ever widening everyone’s Twitter ‘reach’. If you’re not using these, you should be!
Attracting those with interest in a certain topic
Say you’ve written a book that’s set in Cornwall, or you have a business that’s set there, or you’re posting a photograph that you took. If you hashtag #Cornwall in your tweet, it will be seen by anyone who puts #Cornwall in the search. Many cities, towns and counties have their special hour on Twitter, too; if you put, for instance, #NorthantsHour into the search, you will find the account for that hashtag, and, thus, find out when it is (Thursday 8-9 pm, actually, I just looked!). Then you can tweet during that time with the hashtag—and, as before, retweet others for maximum effect. These are used mostly for business advertising and events, but not exclusively.
For writers or tweets about writing and books, if you add #amwriting, #writers, #writetip, #amreading or #writerslifestyle to your tweet, you will get lots more retweets, as some people who used automated apps to run their accounts will set them to RT certain hashtags. I’m sure there are others, for writers and indeed for other subjects; it’s just a matter of doing a bit of research
Finding like-minded people to follow
You might want to up your following and don’t know how. Okay, say you’re interested in jazz. Put #jazz in the search, click on ‘Accounts’, and you’ll find everyone else who’s into it. If you add it to your tweets, this will gain new followers too, because others who put #jazz into the search will find YOU!
Some people do live Twitter chats or promotions, and decide on a hashtag for that particular event. #RosieAmberParty for instance (that’s not real, by the way, I just made it up!). Say a live chat lasts for two hours and you want to take part, you just put the hashtag on your tweet and it will appear in the stream with all the other participants, so you and they can talk to each other. The recent #BloggersBash was similar, to let people know the news about the event in London, and the blog award results.
Similarly, some people tweet about a particular TV/Radio programme, while it’s on: #TheArchers or #The Apprentice, for instance. Most popular programmes have their own hashtag, often started by the production company. Or about a news item: #Brexit, #VoteLeave, #VoteRemain, etc, or something current, like #Wimbledon or #WorldCup2014, #GayPride or whatever. Fans of a certain programme, celebrity or group (you will, no doubt, have seen many about teeny bopper crooners One Direction…) make various hashtags so like-minded Twitterers can join in.
Hashtag as description: indicating the subject matter of a book, film etc
If you’re tweeting about a book, it’s general practice to add the genre/location/subject, etc of the book so that people who might be interested in it will click the link: #YA #Fantasy #Steampunk #VictorianMurderMystery #Romance #Chicago #DomesticViolence, etc etc, or anthing that will tell people what the book is about. This is SO worth doing. I recently discovered a new favourite author (Ann Swinfen), simply because she’d put #17thCentury #The Fens on a tweet for one of her books. She’s since gained several sales and some wonderful reviews from me; this also illustrates the power of the retweet: I had never heard of her, but her tweet was RTd by someone I knew. Musicians might add #rock or #country—you get the general idea!
Hashtag games: I love them. You will have seen such things as #MakeAFilmSmaller or #FoodFilms. Many of them are all about clever plays on words; just click on the hashtag and you’ll see what’s going on. Another good way of finding people who would normally be outside your Twitter circle. Great fun, too!
Lots of people use hashtags for humorous asides. For instance, you might be tweeting something about your day:
‘Can’t get myself going today…. #StayingInBed’.
Or ‘When’s it going to stop raining? #FlamingJune’.
Or ‘Did anyone see Michael McIntyre on #JonathanRoss last night? #WhatAnIdiot’.
This isn’t an ‘official’ use of the hashtag and there are no rules to it, it’s just something people do!
And finally—How NOT to use them
Hashtagging random words
‘My guest #post on how to make the #perfect cupcakes!‘
Pointless, and looks silly. If anything, hashtag the word #cupcakes.
Writing the title of your book as a hashtag
Unless stacks of people are likely to be tweeting or searching for information about it, there’s little point. If you want it to stand out, you’re better off typing it in capital letters.
Using too many
‘New #blog post: #Authors #Writers #HowTo increase your #blog traffic
#Blog #Bloggers #Blogging #Advice #Goals #MondayMotivation’
Yes, it will hit all those hashtags and it’s clear what it’s about, but it looks as if it’s trying to cover all bases, and as if it’s a bit hard sell, rather than an interesting article you might want to look at.
Adding the hashtag when your tweet is nothing to do with its subject
For instance, tweeting about a jewellery product you’re trying to sell and adding the hashtag #TuesdayBookBlog. Or a tweet about your horror book with #MondayMotivation. People do this to try to attract more views, but it just makes them look idiotic/desperate/a bit cheeky. It’s known as hashtag abuse, and will probably get you blocked by the hashtag administrator (if there is one), or even reported to Twitter for spam.
This is when people use a hashtag like #SundayBlogShare and tweet every single blog post they’ve ever written, all at once. Will be more likely to get you blocked by people than have them read your posts.
I think I’ve covered every eventuality here! Using hashtags the right way can make so much difference to your Twitterly life; I hope it’s helped.
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