Writers, Do You Know the Power of the Hashtag?

Today writers need to be social media experts. It’s a sad truth that many aren’t aware of. I’m going to help you use the tool called the “hashtag.” In June of 2014, the term, hashtag was added to the Oxford Dictionary making it officially here to stay. “A hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content. Users create and use hashtags by placing the hash character (or number sign) # in front of a word or unspaced phrase, either in the main text of a message or at the end. Searching for that hashtag will then present each message that has been tagged with it.” (Wikipedia, 2015)

 I’m sure you’re aware of the term “hashtag” but are you aware of its power?

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TRENDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA USE OF HASHTAGS

Jimmy Fallon uses hashtags in big ways on his show, “The Tonight Show.” Hashtags have become a way of life in social media and knowing how and when to use them can be a game changer for someone who wants to gain a following with certain readers. Jimmy Fallon shows the public how hashtags can gather people with like ideas for communication. You too can do the same thing—that is powerful.

ARE THERE RULES TO HASHTAGS?

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There are certain rules you should follow in creating and using hashtags. I’ll help you understand how you can grow an audience by using hashtags and by investigating when to use a new hashtag and when to use an older existing one. Sometimes it’s important to use both within the same message. Let’s go over how and why you might use a hashtag.

WHY HASHTAG?

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The real reason you’d want to search for groups of people online is to build an audience. These are people who are interested in topics you write about or are people who could be your audience. Hashtags are a way for someone to search a given social media network by topic and find new, interesting people to interact with. That way we grow our connections and sell more books. Hashtags make your life easier and there’s no doubt about it.

When you compose a social media update that includes one or two hashtags that summarize the topic—you are giving folks who wouldn’t otherwise have a connection with you—a way to find you.

TIPS FOR USING HASHTAGS THE RIGHT WAY

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Don’t overload your social media updates with hashtags according to Edie Melson.“The optimum number of hashtags depends on the social media network you’re on.” Here’s a great guide to go by.

Twitter: Two hashtags is best, but one or three will also work.

Facebook: No more than one hashtag per update, otherwise you may be unintentionally spamming your followers

Instagram: Two hashtags is best, but one or three will also work here as well.

Pinterest: Pin it

RESEARCH YOUR HASHTAGS

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Search social media and figure out where your audience and who your audience is. Once you know where they hang out then use those already used hashtags to bring them to you. Add your hashtag with one they use already so they can find you. Your audience will then grow by your research and understanding of who you are targeting. Only make your own hashtag if you pair it with one already used socially by those who you target. Remember a space ends the hashtag. Don’t forget that key point. A hashtag ends with a blank space. Your hashtag will not work otherwise.

It’s also good to leave some room at the end of your tweets so your hashtags aren’t cut off if it’s retweeted. Tweets are only 140 characters long. If I use all 140 characters, then if anyone retweets it, the end will be cut off because there’s no room for the retweeters information that goes at the beginning of the tweet.

ETIQUITE OF HASHTAGS

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Try to never use more than three hashtags in any one tweet. If you can make it two that’s even better. Otherwise, you end up looking like a spammer. If you’re trying to reach more groups, schedule multiple tweets, at different times, about the same subject and target your groups two at a time.

Do you have a great story about using hashtags? Share it! We’d love to hear of your success!

Jennifer Bennett

About Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer J. Bennett was born in Southern California as the youngest of six children. Her imagination began to develop as a child creating worlds in her backyard. Books have always played a big role in her life; favorites growing up were “The Country Bunny” by Dubose Heyward, “The Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell among many, many others. She also enjoys music, theater, travel, and cooking.

Jennifer moved from Southern California in 1989 and finished high school in Southern Utah where she met her husband Matthew Bennett who currently works in educational administration. They reside in St. George, Utah with four amazing kids: Haylee, Chase, Conner, and Libby. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she began writing her first novel, “The Path”. Her father encouraged her to move forward with her writing and she has continued since. He passed away in 2009.

Jen, as her friends call her; can be found buzzing around California from time to time in search of magical elements from the past. She tries to balance fun, being a mom, and trying to be a grownup (which she really isn’t sure she ever wants to be).

Visit Jen’s blog at: http://www.jjbennett.com/

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