To Hashtag or Not to Hashtag?

Before I started using Twitter, I thought the idea of a hashtag was pretty ridiculous. I was part of the group that laughed about hashtags ( see funny Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake hashtag bit making fun of the hashtag craze ). Now, though, I use hashtags consistently whenever I hop on Twitter, so I would say I’m in the hashtag camp, and would like to explain why and which hashtags are especially helpful as a writer (or a reader).

First, let me step back a bit and address all those non-tweeting, non-techno crazed peeps out there and give you an idea what a hashtag is and why people use them. You’ll see these on advertisements, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media as what we all formerly only referred to as a pound sign (#). A hashtag can be anything really that begins with the pound sign. #CJStuart could be a hashtag if anyone cared enough to search for CJ Stuart on social media. #SDCC was a hugely popular hashtag this weekend since San Diego Comic Con was captivating the social media networks. I’ll confess I did more than my fair share of searches with this hashtag looking for all news and pictures and videos that were being posted from and about the popular geekfest that happens annually where all manner of movies and TV shows get promoted. This brings us to the true purpose of the hashtag – to search posts easily using a “trending” or popular search term. For more info on hashtags, check out this article on the basics of the hashtag.

By adding a hashtag to your post, others can find your post among many others on the same topic, and likewise, when logging into Twitter or Facebook you can search for posts related to what you’re interested in quickly and easily using a hashtag. The key is to know which hashtags to use so your posts get viewed and which will help you find what you are looking for easily.

Now it is true that some people will create hashtags with no functionality that are there just for amusement. I’ll do that sometimes, especially on Facebook when I don’t care for people to find my post. I went to Sea World this past week with my family and we sat in the “Splash Zone” at the Shamu Orca whale show. Sitting in the splash zone means you will get wet – very wet – during the show when the whales will splash water out to the audience.  When we left the show, I posted to Facebook with a hashtag like: #SatInTheSplashZoneAndNowWeAreSoaked. Obviously I didn’t care if someone found my post, since it is extremely unlikely someone would be searching with this hashtah, but it just seemed a funny way to personalize my post.

On Twitter, however, I use hashtags all the time, and depending on which Twitter account I am using, I use the hashtags specifically to get my tweet noticed. I say “depending on which account” because I have two different Twitter accounts. 🙂 I have one that I use just for fun, where I geek out over shows and celebrities and general silliness. I have another, which is my primary account, that I use specifically to promote myself as a writer. It’s this primary account (@twinmomcj) where I use functional hashtags the most. It’s these hashtags I’d like to highlight for you.

1) #amwriting – I both tweet with this hashtag whenever I tweet something related to writing and I search this hashtag when I am looking for something helpful or just ready to RT (re-tweet) other writers. People will tweet a lot of helpful blogs, quotes, tips, thoughts, etc using this hashtag. I also add this hashtag to my profile so people will find my Twitter profile when they search the hashtag. This gets me a lot of new followers rather consistently because people like to find fellow writers when they create writing related accounts and this hashtag helps them to find us.

2) #amreading – Like #amwriting, this is a great way to find fellow readers, or to find something new to read, or to promote your work to readers. I am a reader, so I like to use this hashtag to find fun quotes about being a bookworm, but there’s a lot of variety to this one. A lot of indie published authors use this to promote their newly published work. It’s not a bad way to find something new to read to support indie writers.

3) #writetip – I like this hashtag to get little writing tips from my fellow writers. Since this is social media, you have to take everything with a grain of salt, as anyone can post any tip they really want, however valid that tip might be ( – or might not be as the case may be 😉 ).

4) #MondayBlogs – If you are a blogger or like to read blogs, this is a great hashtag for you, since you’ll get access to people searching for blog posts to read, or you can find lots of blog post options if you are wanting to find ones to read or RT (retweet). It’s highly encouraged to search for others tweeting with the #MondayBlogs hashtag to RT good blog posts and share the love.

5) #IARTG – This hashtag stands for Independent Author Re Tweet Group and is popular among Indie published authors to promote themselves and each other and their work. Why a RT group? Re-tweeting is sharing someone else’s tweet with all of your followers, so when you RT someone else’s tweet, it gives the opportunity for promotion among a whole new (and possibly larger and more active) following than your own. Indie authors created this group to boost the exposure for their work being promoted. Pick some of these tweets up and share with others, especially for authors you know and love and want to spread the word about! 😉

There are many other great hashtags out there for writers and for readers that stay popular but sometimes there are new ones that crop up as well. I recommend exploring around and trying a few out if you’re on Twitter as a writer especially. Of course there are trending ones based on whatever is popular at the time, like #WhateverBlockbusterMovieIsInTheatres or #PopularTVShow or #TrendingPoliticalIdea or #SuperBowlAd and you can tweet or post with these also to get visibility. I mention this because maybe your latest blog post relates to something popular at the time, like “Writing Lessons You Can Learn From Jurassic World”, so you may consider tweeting out the blog post with the hashtag #JurassicWorld when the hashtag is hot.

So the question is, to hashtag or not to hashtag? It all comes down to what you want to accomplish with your time spent on social media. I don’t have a great deal of time to spend on social media lately (except my Just For Fun Twitter because, hey, I have friends there!), so I use my favorite hashtags all the time. I hop on Twitter for my writing account to respond to mentions, to RT a few friends or tweets I see of interest and then I hop off. I seldom spend more than 10-15 minutes a day on my writing Twitter, but doing this, I consistently add to my followers and I manage and promote my current blog posts. If you are trying your hand at social media, it’s a great way to explore.

Do you use hashtags? What are some of your favorites? Do you think they are ridiculous? Overused? Feel free to share with me in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

#ThatsAllFolks 😉

~CJS

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