As a new author, I took to Facebook like a book nerd (which I am) in a library, but I originally resisted Twitter. It looked like a lot of gibberish to me with the abbreviated messages (remember when they could only be 140 characters instead of 280?). And all those symbols mixed in that I grew up calling pound signs looked ridiculous. My husband insisted that I get a Twitter account, if for no other reason than to register my name before someone else did. And he further nagged me saying, “You don’t write books on parchment, Vickie. You have to have a Twitter account.” I finally succumbed and I’ve even grown to enjoy Twitter as a different format from Facebook — and one that reaches a different audience. You can share the same content to different social media platforms, or you can mix it up. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean more work.
If any of you are still unsure about Twitter, I’ll tell you now what I didn’t know then: Hashtags are used to categorize tweets to help you find similar content, and to help people interested in your topic find you.
Some hashtags I frequently use when sharing Chicks on the Case tweets are #author, #NewReleases, #writerslife, #amwriting, #amreading, #bookgiveaway and #cozymystery. People in the Twittersphere who are drawn to these hashtags are our peeps! I also search these hashtags periodically to see what’s going on in our little corner of the world. If you use nonsense hashtags it will make it harder for people to find you — like tossing your tweets into the $5 DVD bin at Walmart.
According to a report on Social Media Today, using too many hashtags in a tweet negatively affects your engagement. For optimal engagement keep it to a couple of hashtags on Twitter. (Instagram is a different beast. Apparently you can use up to thirty hashtags on Instagram – nine is thought to foster optimal engagement.)
Don’t add a hashtag that has nothing to do with your post or randomly use a recently popular hashtag. For instance, don’t put a #Maythe4thbewithyou hashtag on your May 7th Star Wars related tweet. It will just look weird. (And you can use a service like Hootsuite to schedule tweets ahead of time, so you don’t miss something timely or important, like your Star Wars tweet on May 4th.)
Despite what some people say, you can use hashtags on Facebook, and you can certainly use them in a search. But because of Facebook’s peculiar and ever-changing algorithms, the real effect of hashtags in posts is unknown. What shows up in your Facebook feed still seems to be primarily determined by your likes and comments.
I know what I said about avoiding nonsense tags, and traditional wisdom says one shouldn’t add a hashtag just to amuse oneself. But it probably comes as no surprise that I disregard this caveat. And I’ve even been rewarded at times when I serendipitously used a hashtag I thought I’d just made up only to discover it’s already a thing. When this happens it makes me feel connected in a way to all the other #Twitternerds (this is an example of serendipity!) out there. So far, I’m still a refugee from Instagram. I’m not sure I have the energy for that many #hashtags.
What about you? Any social media or tech-related stuff that drives you nuts? Is there a social media platform you avoid or just don’t enjoy? Share in the comments — and feel free to use hashtags.