Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What is a Hashtag? by Kayelle Allen @KayelleAllen #writerslife #MFRWauthor

What is a Hashtag? by Kayelle Allen @KayelleAllen #writerslife #MFRWauthor
Do you know what this abbreviation "etc." means? It's the word et cetera which is Latin for "additional unspecified odds and ends; more of the same." It's intended to reduce the number of characters (or sentences) needed to explain an item.
That abbreviation is a perfect example of not wasting time. We don't write an entire list, or even the entire word. Although, here's a question: why is the word abbreviation so long? Hmmm. Another post for a different day.
Since 2012, I host over 350 authors a year on my Romance Lives Forever blog, and I've seen trends come and go. One that's endured is adding hashtags to the subject. Why is this valuable? Because when the post is shared on social media, those hashtags will enable people to find it. Here's an analogy that might help you understand.

What is a Hashtag

This symbol: # is called a hashmark. It's also the abbreviation (there's that word again) for number. On Twitter (and most other social media) when you add that symbol in front of a word, it changes the word to a search program.
Let's say you want to look up the word "tweet" on Twitter. In the Twitter search box, you type #tweet. The URL that pops up is this:
https://twitter.com/search?q=%23tweet&src=typd and all the tweets with that hashtag are listed.

Why Do I Need Hashtags

I'm a busy person. I know you are too. Imagine if you needed to pick up something at the grocery store, so you run in, grab a cart, and head for the produce department. When you get there, you discover a case for milk next to the lettuce. Not the milk you buy, unfortunately. Then next to the milk is a shelf with bread, but the brand you prefer isn't there either. Then comes oatmeal. The quick cooking type--but your kids like the instant version.
At this point, you stop, look around, and realize the entire store has been completely rearranged. There is no rhyme or reason to its layout. It's just whatever the store received that day in the back went out onto the sales area. No more aisles with bread, or aisles with canned veggies, or aisles with cereal. You have to walk up and down every aisle hoping to find what you need. How fast would you push that cart back to the exit and go elsewhere? Yeah. Me too.
Twitter is a store for information, news and opinions. It puts out whatever comes in as the info arrives. There is no order. You get what you get. If you want to find something on Twitter, you either look for a person who interests you, or a hashtag that does.
Hashtags are to Twitter what aisles are to a store. They are the "departments" where you can find what you need and what you're looking for. I recommend having 1-2 hashtags in the title of a blog post, near the end of the subject. Use 1-2 in a tweet also. Generally, using over 3 hashtags is considered "spammy."
You could just scroll on Twitter and read, but what if you went there to find out if others are watching the same TV show you are? What is the show's hashtag? Enter that in the search box and pow! There are all the show's tweets. How cool to discover the cast is live tweeting! You can actually interact with fans, actors, and writers. Without a hashtag, you'd be lucky to stumble across even one tweet.

What hashtags are best for writers?

Find out which hashtag is being used most in your genre and use it. There are Twitter bots (legal) that pick up certain hashtags and retweet them to their followers. #SciFi is one of them. Make sure you're using a hashtag that is actually in use already. If no one is searching for it, the hashtag is pointless. My favorite place to discover whether a hashtag is popular is www.ritetag.com It's free. I don't use any hashtags till I've checked them out there.
Generally, use the single version of a word vs. the plural #book is better than #books for example. Check out this RiteTag listing of results for the word #romance:
Other good writer hashtags include #amwriting #amediting #MFRWauthor #writerslife #author -- share yours in the comments.

A word about Triberr

First, let me say it's Tri-berr not Tribb-er. It's has 1 B and 2 Rs. Not Tribber - Triberr. Okay, stepping away from the soapbox...
The site Triberr is a blog amplifier. What that means is when you link your blog to the site, it allows other people to share your post with their social media. Try it for 30 days and you will not want to go back.
On Triberr, hashtags matter. You will gain a hundred-fold more readers with Triberr, so leverage that by using appropriate hashtags. Don't add your own @name to the title. It will be included in every tweet that Triberr sends, even though you can't see it on the site. Look at your mentions on Twitter and you will.

Should I use my name as a hashtag?

Is it better to write #KayelleAllen or @kayelleallen in a tweet? (fyi - the @kayelleallen is also called your at-name and is written as @name). These are referred to as mentions. (Mary mentioned you on Twitter means that Mary sent out a tweet that had your @name in it)
I don't recommend using your name as a hashtag. Why not? You will get far more mileage from the @name because when anyone clicks that, it pops up a link so they can follow you. If they click it again, it takes them to your profile page. A hashtag with your name is only going to open a search for the name. It will not necessarily show your profile, which means it's less likely to get you followers.
When you tweet, don't add your own @name either. Obviously, if the tweet is from you, then the person can click your name since you are the sender. If your publicity person is talking about you, then yes, they should use your @name.

Hashtag Research

Here are three good links to check out for hashtag dos and don'ts:
Now that you know what a hashtag is and how it works, what are you going to do with them? Do you have questions? Please share in the comments.
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Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She's a US Navy veteran who's been married so long she's tenured. https://kayelleallen.com  Join the Romance Lives Forever Reader Group Download four free books and get news about books coming soon. You can unsubscribe at any time.