Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writers: Are You Using Hashtags Effectively?

If you're anything like me I was utterly baffled using hashtags. Sure, I'd seen them around. You'd have to be blind not to see them everywhere. I'd even used them a time or two when I was searching for a pitch party. But I had no idea how much they could impact my online presence.

First let's start with why you should use them.

Hashtags are crucial for writers who...
  • are building, or continuing to build, an online presence
  • want to sell their books without spamming people
  • want to reach their readers and piqué new readers' interest
  • want to connect with other writers
Still not convinced? Check out what I learned through my research.
  • By using one or two hashtags in your tweet you receive two times more engagement than without them.
  • Tweets with one or two hashtags have a 21% higher engagement than those with three hashtags.
  • When you use three or more hashtags your engagement level actually drops by 17%.
  • Individuals who use hashtags can see a 100% increase in engagement.
  • Brands-- authors-- can see a 50% increase.
  • Tweets with one or more hashtags are 55% more apt to be read.
And all because of a little #. I didn't make this stuff up. It's from Twitter's own research.
The type of engagement I'm talking about is retweets, clicks to your post, favorites and replies. Hashtags are crucial in today's social media world!
Many of you follow me on Twitter (I follow back) and I've noticed that several of you don't use hashtags. So, I'm thinking you either don't understand how to use them, or you're wondering how a little # symbol could benefit you. Both of which applied to me until recently.

There are rules you should follow when using hashtags.

Please don't go hashtag crazy or you'll lose your advantage. One or two hashtags that relate to your content max. It's best to use hashtags on Googe+, Twitter and Instagram. On Facebook there's no correlating data that says a hashtag does any good. Actually, experts say that posts without them fare better. Since hashtags have only been around on FB since 2013, and three months later they ran their research. Should you abandon them entirely on Facebook? It's best to test it yourself and see how they do.
Today let's concentrate our efforts on where there's a proven track record that they work. On Twitter, Google+, and Instagram you get the most bang for your buck. On Google+, your posts are given hashtags automatically based on the content, but you can also edit them or add your own. Also unique about Google+, you can add hashtags in your comments as well as your post – double the opportunities to be found.
And since Google+ is Google’s social network, hashtags are now built right into Google searches. If you type in a hashtag search, you’ll get the normal search results plus a sidebar of relevant Google+ posts.
You might be tempted to use a hashtag or two in your post title. Please don't do this. It will only clog up the stream. The best way to use them is when you tweet your post, then add a hashtag or two that relates to your topic. Or, when you tweet someone else's post. Do them a favor and add a hashtag. It only takes a second to do, and they'll really appreciate the extra effort you put in.
Don't worry if you forget, though. I'm guilty of this, too. However, once you remember shoot another tweet out there, one with the hashtag. If you don't remember until later then just do it the next time you visit that site. No big deal. Certainly no one will complain if you forget a hashtag. If you remember, though, people will appreciate the effort. And why not help our fellow writers out by extending their reach.
You see, when you add a hashtag your tweet goes beyond your followers to a designated spot-- for instance #amwriting-- and then everyone who reads that hashtag will see your post.

How will I know what hashtags to use? 

I found this chart on, entitled "100 Twitter Hashtags for Writers". You can view the original by clicking the link above. But here it is in its entirety.

100 Twitter Hashtags for Writers

To connect with other writers use:
##1K1H (write one thousand words in one hour)
#MyWANA (writer’s community created by Kirsten Lamb)
#NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month is held every November)
For genre specific:
#MGLit (middle grades literature)
#PoetryMonth (Each April in the USA)
Promotion, Networking and Marketing:
#99c (to offer or pick up an eBook bargain)
#Novelines (to quote your own work)
Books and Reading:
Book Industry News and Publishing Tips:
#IAN1 (Independent Author Network)
And that doesn't include the list of pitch party hashtags that are out there. Some of which you can find here on my blog.
On Literary Agent Carly Watters' blog recently she mentioned using a hashtag for your upcoming release, to start promoting your book before it hits the shelf. Example: #MARRED
Here's what she had to say:
When you talk about your book–leading up to publication–you must use a hashtag that captures the title. There are no excuses on this one. If you want to connect your readers to you and each other, you must be providing a link of communication. A hashtag of your title is that link. Readers want to socially engage with each other. They want to share quotes, reviews, and more. Give them that opportunity by leading with example. It’s not cocky to give your book a hashtag, it’s a reality of social media.

Did I forget to mention any hashtags you use often? Help us out and leave it in the comment section.
How have you found hashtags to be helpful?
Sue Coletta is a member of Sisters In Crime. She blogs at: and is co-administrator/contributor for Prose & Cons and contributor for: and When she's not working-- which is practically never-- she enjoys playing with her two Rotties and strolling through her garden, that her husband maintains. Find her on Twitter @SueColetta1 or in her new Facebook group, Crime Lovers.


Ash Krafton | @ashkrafton said...

What a fabulous article!

I actually did a *head desk* because I literally had just sent out a Tweet with 3 hashtag and I was totally chagrined.:)

I really appreciate the lists you included. Great advice, as always!

Sue Coletta said...

Thank you, Ash! I was surprised to learn that more than two hashtags work against you, too.

Unknown said...

I've had a difficult time figuring out how to effectively use hashtags. It seems like the majority of the time I am either tagging too many things or just using the wrong keyword. I will definitely be following your advice regarding sticking to one or two hashtags.
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Anonymous said...

This was really helpful. I’m a new author and on twitter, I tend to use 4+ hashtags per post. From the research you’ve shown, looks like I’m doing more harm than good. I’ll need to pull back and stick to two hashtags a post. Hopefully that will help increase my book’s selling numbers. Thanks a lot for the helpful tips.

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