Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Twitter for Writers: Hashtags are Presents to Open

Wow, this is a big topic. No wonder Rayne Hall wrote her Twitter for Writers book. Too much! You know this is only a Twitter starter kit, right? There is so much more to Twitter than I will deal with in my posts. But, enough whining, today we focus on hashtags.

You probably noticed hashtags (#wordorphrase) in my examples in last week’s post about collecting tweets and sending tweets. Like this:

A month of ideas for “What Can I Write on My Blog Today?” #amwriting #MondayBlogs http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-month-of-ideas-for-what-can-i-write.html

1) Hashtags are one of the ways to get yourself re-tweeted by others. A hashtag is a label that gathers tweets with the same hashtag in one place. So, if you have an interest in writing, you might visit #amwriting after you finished your tweeting.

Use the search feature to find topics people are tweeting about by putting #amwriting (or #mystery or something else) into the search box and hit the little magnifying glass for the search. A list of tweets in chronological order with most recent first will pop up on the right. Scroll down and find some links you might want to explore and/or re-tweet. When you add a hashtag to your tweet, others might do the same.

Some hashtags are “live” 24/7. For example, #amwriting is always available. Others like #MondayBlogs (only blog posts, no book promos) only are used on Mondays. Posting other times, or not sticking to the blog-post-only rule, is bad form. Others will notice that you are abusing the hashtag and may not retweet you!

You can start your own hashtag category. But if you don’t let people know about it, they won’t use it, so what’s the point. I started one for sharing old (or new) blog posts (no books) on Thursdays. So each Thursday I post the hashtag rules on Facebook and tweet about #ShareBlogPost to build up an audience. Each week, I have more people using this hashtag. So my tweets are being sent to tens of thousands more people than would be true if I only tweeted from my accounts.

Here’s the deal with one-day-a-week hashtags. If you post to there, you need to visit the site two or three times that day and re-tweet others. That’s how it works. If people only used the hashtag, the tweets would just sit there undistributed. It only works if people re-tweet and/or visit the link in the post. 

2) Another thing I like about a topic-focused hashtag like #amwriting over the more general topic ones is that I can get a bunch of possible links to information on something I am interested in. I can scan #amwriting to find tweets on character development or plotting. They stay there, accumulated, so I can go at any time to peruse topics.

And I am shameless. If someone has a good topic, well, I can do my spin on that for a blog post I write. These hashtag sites are a great resource for topics for your own blog posts or novel topics.

Here are some of the hashtags that I regularly use. Not every tweet and not all at once, but I attach these more than others.

#SundayBlogShare (Sundays for blog posts only)
#MondayBlogs (Mondays for blog posts only)
#WWWBlogs (Wednesdays for blog posts)
#ShareBlogPost (Thursdays for old posts mostly, can be new)
#ArchiveDay (Saturdays for old blog posts)
#BlogHer (any day)
#WriteTip (any day for writing tips, not promos)
#amwriting (any day)
#amreading (any day)

3) A third use for hashtags is to have a Twitter party or gathering of like-minded folks. #StoryDam does this on Thursday evenings and authors have used it for a book release party using their #MyBookTitle (fill in your title) hashtag. Everyone in “attendance” attaches that hashtag to posts so everyone can see it at the same time. These gatherings can be even more frantic than the Facebook events you may have attended. Items get lost in the Twitter feed and sometimes you don’t know what was being responded to. It is critical at those parties to not only use the hashtag, but the @name you are responding to so the person has a shot at seeing it.

Having said that, it is like being at a cocktail party where everyone is talking at the same time. LOTS of energy, and you will no doubt find some new folks to follow who have interests aligned with yours. Bright and glittery things will attract your attention! It is crazy fun!

More on hashtags coming as well as the specifics for constructing a tweet that will get re-tweeted. Come back next week! Same time, same place!


  1. Thanks Sharon. This blog was helpful to non-tweeters. Hard to believe, we exist.

  2. Good, Janet. More to come in this series! I hope we do a session at PSWA to get people more comfortable with it.