One of Twitter’s advantages compared to other forms of social media is that it’s possible to build a network quickly. But if you don’t want a network with nothing but bots and online marketers, you’ll need to find some real people, hopefully ones who share some of your interests. Hashtags can help.
Hashtags are a word or phrase that come after the pound sign (#) and are included in your tweet. For example:
Come read my #blogbattle winner, Oak: http://wp.me/s6jPnk-oak. #shortstory, #flashfiction, #amwritingfantasy
I’ve never used four hashtags in a tweet before, but the story title was short, and one of the hashtags worked into the message. Generally, I restrict my hastags to only one or two.
Whenever you use a hashtag, you aren’t just identifying with a group, like wearing the jersey for your favorite team. Hashtags do more than that.
On the top right hand side of the menu bar, on the Twitter home page, you’ll see a search box. If you enter a hashtag into it, like #amwritingfantasy, it will take you to a separate virtual room instead of the main Twitter feed. There you’ll see displayed all the tweets of other Twitter users who used that hashtag.
Now hover your mouse over each name that interests you. A box will pop up showing their bio, their Twitter stats, and whether or not you’re already following them. In my case, I generally follow everyone in this virtual room.
Now you can repeat this for every hashtag you feel is worthwhile for you. After I follow someone, I generally go to their home page and see if they have a pinned tweet. If they do, I retweet it. Usually, if you follow someone with whom you have something in common, like a fellow writer, and you retweet them, most people will follow back. It may take a little time (not everyone hops on Twitter every day), but the follow-back rate is pretty good.
As a side note, if you don’t have a pinned tweet, you really should, and it’s simple even though Twitter keeps changing the little icon for it. A month ago it was several dotted lines on the far right of every tweet you make. At the time of this posting, it’s a little blue down arrow like the ones that commonly open menus, also on the right. If you click it, you’ll get a drop down menu that offers you several options, one of which is to pin to your profile page. Click that, and it’ll warn you that this will change any current pinned tweets. Click pin, and you now have a pinned tweet. This makes it much easier for anyone who wants to return a retweet favor. (Note: this will not pin your bio or profile. It only pins a particular tweet. Twitter keeps changing the language in their dialogue box, and that’s what it was when I wrote this. Their last iteration was clearer. Hopefully the next version will be clearer as well. But they don’t change the basic steps. Click on the upper right of the tweet, and somewhere, there’ll be an option to pin a tweet.)
Here’s a partial list of hashtags for writers from Author Media (to see the entire list, you’ll have to go to their post at http://www.authormedia.com/44-essential-twitter-hashtags-every-author-should-know/.)
- #WriterWednesday (or #WW)
Connect By Book Genre –
- #RWA (Romance Writers of America)
- #ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)
- #MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
- #SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)
To these I’ll add
- #amreading (for book reviews)
- #FF–follow Friday, recommendations of people to follow
- #blogbattle–for more, see my post under Social Media–Blogging
- #1linewed–for more, see my post under Social Media–Twitter
Happy Tweeting! 🙂