For writers just entering the world of Twitter, hashtags can seem like a bit of a mystery. But the concept is actually pretty simple, and there are plenty of ways to use hashtags to your advantage.
What is a hashtag?
When you include a hashtag in a tweet, the hashtagged word will appear as a link that connects that tweet to others using the same hashtag. Thus, hashtags work to help categorize your messages and make them easier for people to find.
For example, if you write a tweet about how you just surprised yourself with a new plot twist in your novel, you might add the hashtag #amwriting. This will further show readers what your tweet is about and will help your message become part of a larger conversation among people who are tweeting about their writing process.
What’s the point?
- Be a part of something bigger. Like in the #amwriting example above, you can use hashtags to contribute to conversations that are taking place outside of your immediate connections.
- Add meaning to your message. A hashtag can help you add an extra level of clarity, meaning or humor to an otherwise simple or cryptic tweet.
Example: “I guess my characters aren’t coming out to play today… #writersblock”
- Manage conversations. Creating your own unique hashtag for an event, live chat or promotion can help you keep track of and better interact with people who are joining in on your conversation.
Hashtag Best Practices
- Creating new hashtags — If you’re thinking of trying to establish your own hashtag for a contest, book giveaway, tweet chat, etc., first check to make sure the hashtag you want isn’t being used by another group of users. You don’t want to spam an already established hashtag with unrelated posts. Simply search your desired hashtag in Twitter to see what results (if any) turn up.
- Less is more — In the world of Twitter, you have only 140 characters to get your message across. If your hashtag is too long, people might not have enough characters left over to say what they want to say about your topic. Also, don’t stuff your tweets with too many hashtags. This looks cluttered and makes your message more difficult to read. Choose one or two hashtags that are clear and concise. Remember, Twitter hashtags are all about efficiency.
- Keep it together — Don’t forget to stick to numbers and letters. Spaces and special characters will break your hashtag. While you can include numbers in a hashtag, it has to include letters, too.
Okay: #ABC123, #ILoveWriting, #WeAreWriters
Not okay: #321, #I Love Writing, #We’reWriters
Be bold, get creative and start using hashtags in your tweets. Hashtags can help you reach more people, stay up-to-date on more conversations, and ultimately improve your Twitter experience. Happy tweeting!
What are your favorite hashtags to follow?