How to Use Twitter Hashtags to Gain Followers and Build Your Audience

hashtagOne 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/.)

  • #AmWriting
  • #AmEditing
  • #WriterWednesday (or #WW)
  • #IndieAuthors
  • #WriteChat
  • #NaNoWriMo

Connect By Book Genre –

  • #RomanceWriter
  • #SciFiChat
  • #KidLitChat
  • #RWA (Romance Writers of America)
  • #ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)
  • #MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
  • #SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)
  • hashtag2 #MemoirChat
  • #Romance
  • #Horror
  • #FanFic
  • #YA
  • #History

To these I’ll add

  • #amreading (for book reviews)
  • #fantasy
  • #flashfiction
  • #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! 🙂

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Avid writer and reader, especially of fantasy. Learning about social networking and always interested in honing my writing skills. Contact me at cathleentownsend.com.

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Posted in Twitter
45 comments on “How to Use Twitter Hashtags to Gain Followers and Build Your Audience
  1. Carl Bystrom says:

    Thank you, Cathleen! This is really helpful for total Twitter twits, like myself. I had no idea that you could pin a tweet.
    One question: am I reading correctly that you are suggesting we pin our profile info as a tweet (by default until we have some important long-lived tweet to pin)?
    I will definitely explore the hashtags further.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, that’s ambiguous, and I was concerned about that. It’s just what’s in the twitter dialogue box (as of writing this tweet–it changes) when you want to pin a tweet. The language they used on their last iteration was clearer.

      This is only instructions to pin a particular tweet, not putting your profile up. I’ll go amend my article to make that clearer.

      But pinning a tweet is super-useful. It’s so much easier when you’re going to someone’s feed who you’ve just met. You don’t have to search and wonder what they’d want promoted the most. It’s already taken care of, right at the top of their feed. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Kate McClelland and commented:
    Nice tip thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Wind Eggs and commented:
    There’s so much more to hashtags than Tweeting them. They can be mini-search engines to help promote your books. Cathleen Townsend explains:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post!! Thanks so much. I’ll be using some of these and tweeting more from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much, Cathleen. I hope it will finally help me to sell more books. or even that people will see my books.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks, Cathleen! Sharing… xo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, Cathleen, for this helpful information. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] How to Use Twitter Hashtags to Gain Followers and Build Your Audience […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sara Gethin says:

    Really, really helpful. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jami Carder says:

    What happens if we use a hashtag as a tag in a WordPress post? Will it show up on other social media outlets when people are searching tags?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I tend to pin my lastest blog post. I totally agree with pinning something up there. Since people retweet and reply, etc. having a tweet by the person at the top helps connect with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, having a pinned post is an excellent idea, especially because it takes so little time. 🙂

    Like

  13. tayslowe says:

    This is definitely helpful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good list of Twitter #hashtags. My list consisted of #amwriting. Now, I have lots more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I end up with a mental list that I use (which I included at the bottom of the post) for general tweeting. But it’s worth getting into a list of hashtags if you’re trying to expand your Twitter audience with any kind of targeting. 🙂

      Like

  15. Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    Cathleen Townsend provides us with an excellent article about hashtags and how to use them to be successful in gaining followers and audience. I’m sure you’ll find it as informative and interesting as I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. agshap says:

    You learn something new every day….thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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