You’ve been tweeting for a while now, built a decent following, maybe even made some lists to organize your followers. You’ve learned how to share great content, so why aren’t you getting more retweets? Maybe you’ve noticed other tweets with that strange looking pound sign in front of a word or string of words. If you’re not using hashtags, you are severely limiting your reach.
Hashtags are a way to categorize tweets and make them easy to find on any given topic. You can use already existing hashtags to jump into an ongoing conversation or topic you can make up your own hashtag unique to your product or brand.
Let’s start with existing hashtags. For writers some common hashtags are: #amwriting #writingtips #writingadvice #writingprompts #publishing. Pretty much any topic you can think of will likely have a hashtag discussion already going. Make sure you don’t leave a space between the # and the word, and even though punctation doesn’t matter, you wish to use it for legibility sake.
What happens when you add that hashtag to your Tweet? It gets compiled along with all the other hashtags by the same name. Then, when someone is searching for that topic, yours will show in the stream. For example, let’s look at the hashtag #amwriting. I go to the search bar in Twitter and type it in.
Any tweets with the hashtag will appear, as well as any accounts whose profiles contain the hashtag that is searched for.
Now your tweets are not limited to your followers only but can be found by anyone in the Twitter universe. One word of caution—don’t over do it and add too many hashtags. Generally accepted wisdom is that two or three is a good amount in one tweet.
Before you create a custom hashtag, search on Twitter to make sure it doesn’t already exist. Say you are doing a book tour for your new novel, THE TWITTER CONSPIRACY and you want to let your followers keep tabs on you—create a custom hashtag— #twitterconspiracytour. Every photo and post you make while on your 25 city tour will have that
hashtag and when it’s searched, all the posts will come up. Thrillerfest does this with their conference each year. If you search #thrillerfest15 you will find photos, videos, posts, and more from the conference. Everyone was made aware of the hashtag and loads of participants used it to post live updates on classes, events, and other activities.
Hashtags on Twitter can help you when you are doing research as they will yield information on your topic as well as show the profiles of experts you may want to follow or contact. You can also see what’s trending under “Trends” which is displayed on the left side of your Twitter feed. So #WhatAreYouWatiingFor ? Start using hashtags today and see how far they’ll take you.