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What's up with hashtags?

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I've been on Twitter for a few months. I joined because it felt like a lot went on in the writing community that I was missing. I also thought it might be a good idea to start learning how to navigate Twitter so that I won't be a total ignoramus when I have a book to promote someday. I've mostly been lurking, watching what other writers are doing and thinking about what I would and wouldn't want to do in their position. Only recently have I started to actually participate, and I'm still feeling kind of lost.

I don't get hashtags. I mean, I see that I can click on them and find more tweets about a topic. And I see that I can search for a hashtag to view a particular discussion I want to read. But I don't really know how to figure out which hashtags I might want to use, nor do I know exactly why I should be using them. Should I be using them? Is it just that using them makes it more likely my Tweets will be seen by people interested in a topic? Is there some other motivation behind all this? Inquiring minds want to know!

 

#1 - January 17, 2017, 12:52 PM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

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I'm no help, Melissa, but I'm curious about the same on FB. What does it do? I've never once clicked on a hashtag. I figure my feed is busy enough.
#2 - January 17, 2017, 12:58 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
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Yes, hashtags raise the visibility of your tweet by reaching readers who follow a topic, but don't necessarily follow you. For instance, if you have a picture book about a chicken that loves barbecue, you can hashtag: #picturebook #readaloud #bbq #chicken #carnivorousbird

You may reach a far wider audience with these!

#3 - January 17, 2017, 01:00 PM
http://www.vonnacarter.com
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twitter @VonnaCarter

Heheheh...look at me responding when I know nothing of social media...but here's what I believe to be true about hashtags.

Any words that can link you to your topic/item/etc. is a way of reaching a broader audience. Think of someone selling on Etsy, and they have a handmade wooden stool with the bark still on it to sell. They could use/hashtag: handmade, wooden/wood, stool, furniture, rustic, primitive, and whatever other appropriate words so when people do a search using any of those words...voila.

If there's anything more to it, I'm even more clueless.

But bravo, Melissa, for venturing into the unknown. You gotta start somewhere.
#4 - January 17, 2017, 01:03 PM
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

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Melissa -

What Vonna and Arona said. Think of it like tags or labels on blogs to categorize topics.

Another way you can use hashtags is for fun/silliness. You could type in a word or sentence that is unlikely to have had other people use it, but is funny in the conversation you are having. Like #IDontUnderstandTwitter. Or #WhyCantIEatChocolateForAllMyMeals. You can also use them for "apologies." #SorryNotSorry Or #Sorry #NotSorry.

There are hashtags for chat (usually at a specific time each week, but also used to loop the group in at other times if people check the hashtag), for example: #kidlitchat and #kidlitart.

There are also hashtags you can use for commiseration, like #amwriting.

Hope that helps. Good luck and have fun with Twitter!

Vijaya - I've heard that hashtags work in a similar way on Facebook. I used them last fall for Inktober (art challenge), but I never actually clicked on the hashtag to see how they grouped the posts together.
#5 - January 17, 2017, 01:12 PM
Site - http://sruble.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/StephanieRuble

picture book: EWE AND AYE (Disney-Hyperion)

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Vonna, that seems like a lot of work to tag stuff for something that has a lifespan of just a few minutes. I've discovered on FB that if I see something that I want to remember or read later, I'd better send it to myself right away because I won't be able to find the darn post a few hours later. Maybe I'm going about this all wrong. I assume Twitter works the same way.
#6 - January 17, 2017, 01:15 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Cross-posted with Stephanie. Thanks for explaining this more.
#7 - January 17, 2017, 01:17 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
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Think of it like tags or labels on blogs to categorize topics.

This is it in a nutshell. Those tweets have a much greater lifespan when they can be viewed under a general topic heading, like, say, #mglitchat. As you're on Twitter more, certain hashtags will become familiar to you. You can search for a hashtag just like you can search for a person, and there's the whole discussion laid out in front of you. For example, can you not tune into and take part in #mglitchat tonight (I think)? No problem. Read the hashtag later, at your leisure.

And the humor aspect. Yes. One of the best parts of hashtags.  :lol4
#8 - January 17, 2017, 01:45 PM
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Hashtags don't just help you find tweets, they help you find people. So if you search #toytrains, you may find people who share that interest and can follow their accounts and gradually find your way into that community.

Searching #amwriting and #amrevising might help you find other writers.  :goodluck
#9 - January 17, 2017, 02:32 PM
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
What Goes Up (Bloomsbury, 2017)
Twitter: KatieWritesBks

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Another benefit of hashtags on twitter are pitch parties organized on certain days. For example, #PBPitch is coming up on 2/23. You can tweet your pitch and add the tag #PBPitch. Then the agents or editors who have decided to join in the "party" will search the #PBPitch tag. If they like your tweet, that is an invitation to query them with your MS, and might get your story to the front of the query line.

There is also another great hashtag #MSWL, which stands for ManuscriptWishList. Agents or editors will tweet the type of books they are looking to acquire. You can search it and see if anyone has an interest that matches what you are writing. (This particular tag is not meant for writers to pitch though, just read and learn).

Start digging around and have fun!
#10 - January 17, 2017, 03:59 PM
Lisa Katzenberger
@FictionCity
www.lisakatzenberger.com

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Thanks for asking the question, Melissa K! I've learned a lot. #watchoutnow
#11 - January 17, 2017, 04:27 PM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

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Also Melissa K add your twitter handle here so we can all follow you!
#12 - January 17, 2017, 04:37 PM
Lisa Katzenberger
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Good info, thanks. I had no idea I could just make hashtags up. #NoLongerIgnorant #KnowledgeIsPower #IMayBeGettingCarriedAway 
#13 - January 17, 2017, 09:46 PM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

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I had no idea I could just make hashtags up. #NoLongerIgnorant #KnowledgeIsPower #IMayBeGettingCarriedAway

Sure, and if you invent one that catches on, you'll gain a platform as the originator of that hashtag! #CreativityKnowsNoBounds #WhatWillTheyThinkofNext
#14 - January 18, 2017, 07:41 AM
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Okay, so if I understand this properly, you can follow people on twitter but there's no commenting (like on FB or blogs). There's only liking and finding things. I have a feeling I'd search for cutekittenpics and my day will be blown. I used to subscribe to ittybittykittycommittee :catlove

Dumb question: for things like PBParty, if an agent likes your pitch, you can submit to them, but what happens if other people like your pitch? Does that muddy the waters?

Sometimes I see posts on FB that are Twitter pictures/comments. Are a lot of people cross-posting like this?
#15 - January 18, 2017, 11:50 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
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I found a highly entertaining explanation on many things Twitter: http://www.momthisishowtwitterworks.com/  The author is a lettering artist!!!!! Swoon!!! Or should that be #swoon?

Melissa, thanks for starting this. I'm doing some research. Vijaya
#16 - January 18, 2017, 01:49 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
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Okay, so if I understand this properly, you can follow people on twitter but there's no commenting (like on FB or blogs). There's only liking and finding things.

You can also reply to the person, which will show up in the feed of anyone who is following both of you, or you can DM the person for a private convo. When you DM, the message can be any length. You can also retweet a tweet, with or without adding a comment of your own.

For Twitter pitch events, there are rules particular to that event. For example, they'll likely ask people not to *like* tweets unless they are agents, but will allow others to reply to, or retweet, the tweets (just not heart them). Of course, there are always a few who'll like the tweets who aren't agents. You just have to ignore those.

Yes, a lot of people will Tweet what they posted on FB, post on FB what they tweeted, Tweet what they put on Instagram or their blog, etc.
#17 - January 18, 2017, 05:58 PM
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Very informative, but also intimidating. (Speak for yourself, 217mom  ::) )

There should be a course for just this: Hashtags and Their Place in Your Virtual Life  :hiding
#18 - January 18, 2017, 07:08 PM
THE VOICE OF THUNDER, WiDo Publishing Aug 2012
THERE'S A TURKEY AT THE DOOR, Hometown520 July 2011

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http://mirkabreen.BlogSpot.com

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Thank you, Marcia.
#19 - January 18, 2017, 07:24 PM
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Another way you can use hashtags is for fun/silliness. You could type in a word or sentence that is unlikely to have had other people use it, but is funny in the conversation you are having. Like #IDontUnderstandTwitter. Or #WhyCantIEatChocolateForAllMyMeals. You can also use them for "apologies." #SorryNotSorry Or #Sorry #NotSorry.

I do this often! :)

I've been using Twitter quite a while now and have grown to love it, but the hardest thing at first was not feeling awkward if no one responded to a Tweet. Basically, you have to be comfortable talking to yourself, I think. Don't worry about retweets or Likes/Loves...and don't overthink it. Use hashtags in any/all of the ways people have mentioned in this post and don't worry if a particular Tweet doesn't get any activity.
#20 - January 18, 2017, 07:47 PM

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Vijaya, I'm one of the cohosts of #PBPitch. Yes, multiple agents can "heart" a pitch and you are free to submit to any or all of them. But obviously, it pays to do your research on the agents and only submit if it feels like a good fit. Most of these agents are open to submissions anyway, but by getting a "heart" you can put in your subject line "PBPitch request", which often means you get a bit higher up in the slush pile. And it makes that intro paragraph in your cover letter so much easier it write! Also keep in mind editors of digital presses or new presses often show up at these parties, so go in with your eyes wide open.

And yes, we constantly remind people that only agents and editors should heart pitches, but you will get excited friends to do it, other writers who just like what you pitched, and the occasional, um, possible porn or undesirable person to heart your tweet. Those you just ignore! :-)

I only joined Twitter a few years back to participate in #PitMad. But have grown to love it. It takes awhile to figure it out and find out what/who is worth following, but I find it very helpful and fun. In my opinion, #MSWL is one of the best feeds to follow. And frequently agents will post their reactions to query letters on feeds like #10queries, which I do find helpful as well.

I have never started my own hashtag, but after reading this thread, I'm feeling bold and just might! :-) #YouCan'tStopMeNow!  :pp
#21 - January 19, 2017, 06:32 AM

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Thank you DK. This is all so very helpful, esp. since I am again considering an agent. Lots to study and research. Who knew the places writing could take you ...
#22 - January 19, 2017, 07:28 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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