Twitter Tips for Authors: Hashtags

The other day, a dear friend asked me what a hashtag is.

I wasn’t surprised and I was happy to educate her. In this new web 2.0 world authors are struggling to keep up with all the networking and promo options. If you’re one of them, read on.

hashtag button [2011-365-199]

A hashtag is typically used on twitter as way to categorize keywords. For instance, if you’re making a tweet about an author, you might use the hashtag #author. People who are interested in authors would do a search on #author to find recent tweets with that hashtag.

Things you should know:

There are no preset hashtags. There are no right or wrong hashtags. There are, of course, popular hashtags (and that’s a different post.)

Some people like to have a little fun with their hashtags. Rather than using a hashtag to classify information, they use it as a way to be ironic and save character space. So when you see something like #yeahIsoneedmymorningcoffee don’t expect to find dozens of other people carrying on a conversation about needing their morning coffee. On the other hand, some hashtags just stick.

Things to consider when using hashtags:

  • You can use more than one hashtag to offer extra classification. So on one tweet you might include: #author #writer #editing
  • The shorter your hashtag, the better. Everything on twitter is a numbers game. How much can you squeeze into 140 characters?
  • You can use hashtags anywhere in your tweet. So you might say something like: New #author Suzie Q really knows how to write a #thriller.
  • Watch for conference related hashtags to stay up to date with the latest conference and workshop info.
  • Don’t use hashtags too often. You want hashtags to classify the best of your tweets. Otherwise you risk diluting their usefulness and people will become annoyed.
  • If you post the same tweet throughout the day or over a series of days to capture a wider audience, vary your hashtags.
  • If you’re replying or RTing someone who used a hashtag, take out the hashtag. We don’t need to see the hashtag/message over and over again. We saw the message the first time.