#Hashtags, by Lindsay Bandy

If a tweet goes out into the Twitterverse and nobody sees it, does it actually make an impact in your “platform?” The answer is a resounding no!

Twitter is a strange, strange place for newcomers. If you’re used to Facebook, like I was, you’ll probably find  yourself staring at the screen muttering: What the heck IS this? How does it work? Why are there 50 notifications in my news feed every ten minutes? I’ve talked to a lot of writers who have dormant Twitter accounts because it’s just…weird.

Twitter is fast-paced: a 24-hour-old tweet is geriatric. Many Twitter users follow hundreds–even thousands–of other users they don’t know personally and never will. Some users sell their souls to the spambots and pay for services that follow, unfollow, follow again, and mechanically private message people. So what’s the point? How can anything you say matter and not just get lost in the shuffle?

The answer, my friends, is hashtags.

Hashtags have gotten a bad rap, mostly because they can get really annoying. You’ve seen the Facebook posts with pictures of other people’s dinners: #yum #homemade #lookswhatsonmytable #meatloaf #indigestioncity #passtheketchup. Or the cutie pictures of their kids with #blessed #ijustwannasqueezethosecheeks #cutestbabyever #justlookatthosebuns. Sometimes, it’s cute or funny. Most of the time, it gets old real fast. Just ask Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake….

However, Jimmy also knows the ways to use hashtags to interact with people in a real and hilarious way, rather than just annoy them.  Every Wednesday afternoon, he posts a new hashtag and gets thousands of responses, some of which he reads on the air that evening.

The lesson to learn from Late Night? Hashtag smart!!

Used properly, hashtags are used to effectively categorize posts, so that people can find information relevant to them – anything from humor to writing to gardening to math to contestants on The Voice. They’re “tags” – with a funny little symbol in front. Try searching for #lovemadevisible! You’ll find all of our entries from February’s art and poetry show!

As writers and illustrators, you can easily go roaming Twitter to virtually meet other writers and illustrators, discover articles on your craft, the business, book news, and book discussions. Contrary to some readers’ concerns, it’s not creeper behavior to follow authors you enjoy, or to tweet them a compliments on their work. (However, if you start tweeting them daily, tweeting them your phone number, etc., you will cross the creeper line.) Many agents run special twitter sessions where they will view queries and give instant feedback via Twitter. Cool stuff that’s also quite useful!

You can also use hashtags to categorize your tweets so that people interested in what you have to say will find them. I find that, even though I’m not what you’d call an avid tweeter, every time I tweet with a good hashtag, I get some engagement – a favorite, a retweet, a mention, or a new follower. It’s fun!

So, here are a few of my favorite hashtags to use….what are yours??? 

#amwriting

#amreading

#amediting

#kidlit

#scbwi

#illustrators

#mommylife

#mommyproblems

#parents

#agentmonday

#writinglife

#youknowyouareawriterwhen

What works for you on Twitter, and what mystifies you? Do you find it effective, or a waste of time? Let’s talk about it in the comments! Or, hey, we could even tweet about it….say hi @bandy_lindsay 🙂

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6 Responses to #Hashtags, by Lindsay Bandy

  1. I prefer a tiny pocket-sized flip phone so the only time I check Twitter is at my computer–when I should be working! It is interesting, but could be a huge time suck if you let it. @WendyGreenley

    • I know what you mean, Wendy! I find Facebook to be a bigger distraction for me, actually, since more people that I know personally are on there. But I do enjoy searching Twitter sometimes, especially with #amwriting, to see what other writers are up to.

  2. Thanks Lindsay, timely post, I was just getting bugged at work about tweeting, and I said who reading about me anyhow, I’m not Kim K. This explains it more. The hashtags make the content relevant if you are clever enough.

    • Hey, Steve! Glad it was helpful 🙂 It definitely takes some getting used to, and honestly it’s not my favorite form of social media. But it can be fun and useful.

  3. This came just in time! 10 days into Twitter and it’s everything you’ve described! My learning curve has been with etiquette and weird photo cropping . It seems difficult to anticipate the crop. It’s also mind blowing how fast it is. Illustrators might check out #kidlitart, and #arttips. Tweet on!

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