What many of us in our youth called the “pound sign” is now referred to as a “hashtag,” and while folks of a certain age seem to tweet hashtags naturally, the rest of us wonder if we’re #TooOldToRockAndRoll. Mastering the art of hashtags does take some study, but every author trying to sell books should at least know the following three uses for hashtags.
Hashtags for Events
Conferences, book fairs and other big events are designed for networking and Twitter can open up a new channel for you to use. Tech-savvy folks will tweet while attending whether they are asked to or not. Smart conference organizers count on that Twitter chatter and prepare ahead of time by introducing a specific hashtag.
For instance, when the Chicago Writers Conference started their 2015 event, the marketing folk tweeted: “Today is the day!
#cwc2015 #pumpedup #writersunite.” For the rest of the weekend, attendees tweeted and retweeted photos and comments about their conference experiences using the hashtag #cwc2015 for Chicago Writers Conference 2015.
By tweeting during the conference, folks announce that they are in attendance and they can show how “engaged” they are by posting tweets, which is one way to get noticed by other “engaged” people! Now conversations can start between @author and @publisher or @agent because you have common ground and you can “Favorite,” “Retweet” and “Reply” to a fellow attendee’s tweets without looking like a stalker.
Hashtags for Listening
But Twitter is more than a broadcasting tool – it’s also excellent for research. If you weren’t able to actually attend the Chicago Writers conference, you could follow tweets with #cwc2015 to see photos of the event and follow links to presentation summaries and slides.
Listening for hashtags is also a great way to research the subject you’re writing about or to learn more about your audience. Type hashtag terms into your Twitter search box to find marketing ideas and networking groups or to see who is writing or talking about books. Start by trying terms like #author, #bookblog, #mystery or #amwriting and you’ll soon find even more useful terms.
Hashtags for Promotion
Of course while you are searching for hashtag terms, so are other people, people who might be your readers. So it makes sense to use hashtags in your own tweets to get some attention. Loads of tools are available like TrendsMap that tell you what the popular terms are so you can include them if it makes sense to do so.
Also, be aware that some people use tools like Twitterfav that automatically retweet posts containing pre-selected popular terms. For example, an informal study of our own recently showed that adding “#hack” increased retweets dramatically because it is such a trendy word!
Be careful when creating your own hashtags. Do some research to make sure the term you want to use isn’t already associated with something else. Occasionally, that something else could be embarrassing, but usually it just confuses people. For instance, #cwc2015 was also used during the 2015 Chicago Writers Conference to refer to the Cricket World Cup 2015 which made sorting through the tweets a little more challenging.
No one says you have to spend 18 hours a day on Twitter. Like anything else, it’s a tool for you to use when you need it. Give it a try and decide for yourself. Twitter just might be the tool you need today.