Don't Hate on #Hashtags
Written by
Janay Lampkin
January 2015
Written by
Janay Lampkin
January 2015

Hashtags are frequently overlooked by social media users, perhaps because they seem confusing or unnecessary. But believe it or not, they are integral to the way social media functions and can be very beneficial when they are correctly used. Hashtags are incredibly important and valuable, especially for writers.

What is a hashtag?

Hashtags are short links preceded by the infamous pound sign (#).

Why should writers use hashtags on social media?

They allow writers to reach new readers, and help to connect with other writers who share the same interests and opportunities.

What can I hashtag?

Numbers are supported in a hashtag, BUT punctuation marks are not--so forget about your apostrophes, asterisks, and ampersands.

Where can I hashtag?

Most social media platforms support hashtags: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest all do. However, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should be your go-to networks when hashtagging. 

Hashtags also help to create buzz about a topic or product, and should always be simple and specific.

Here are a few short tips on how to correctly and strategically hashtag:

- Stick to 3 hashtags per post, otherwise it is very possible they will look like spam.

- Don't hashtag the same word twice--it gets very redundant.

- Be natural 

- Be selective and clever

A few #hashtags that every writer should be using:











With these quick tips, you will be a hashtagging pro in no time.  Any other social media questions for me?  Post them below!

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  • Nick Founder

    Thanks I think I will try #editing @nickfounder

  • Sherrie McCarthy

    I always pull back a little from hashtags because I think a lot of people overuse them. I often feel the same way about hashtags as I do about promoting my work. But I think you are right. Just like promotion there is a natural way to do it that can be part of a conversation and a wrong way that makes you into a spambot. Too much of anything is a bad thing. But using it properly can bring me into conversations that I would not otherwise been having. And a big thanks for the list of which hastags to use. I will re-dip my toes into using hashtags with them! 

  • Lana Pecherczyk

    Yes you can use them on Instagram too.

  • Marybeth Holleman

    Thanks for this. Writing friends have been urging me to try Twitter. I didn't realize hashtags are used in FB too. I'll have to give it a go... Are they also useful on blogs?

  • Got it!  How have I been missing this all this time????  Thanks so much, Janay.

    Have you written about Linked In?  I've got this, uh, network that I'm clueless about....

    You just gave me another reason to look forward to Fridays!

  • Janay Lampkin

    Kelly, exactly! The hashtags are specific to the social network, though. So anything you post with that hashtag on twitter will only show up on twitter, same goes for Facebook and other networks. But you've got the concept down! Highlighting key search words is the trick! 

    I will be posting about social media every Friday! So excited that you are finding them helpful, so far!

  • Ok, Janay, great explanation! I think I get it.  So, I'm writing a book about #IraqiRefugees.  So, if others are searching for info about Iraqi refugees, they'd find this post along with others?  It's almost like highlighting a key word?

    Thanks for taking the time to explain.  I hope you write more about social media.  I sure could use the help!

    Kelly Hayes-Raitt

    Mosey on over to my web site and sign in for your free gift -- an mp3 of me reading my book's first chapter about a beggar in Iraq! ...And a pre-publication discount!
  • Janay Lampkin

    Hi Kelly!

    No problem! Hashtags drive traffic to a specific feed based on the words you used in the hashtag.  there is no way to 'choose' your link.  The hashtag simply just organizes your post or tweets with other tweets using the same hashtag.  The purpose of using #AmWriting on twitter is to join the conversation with other writers on twitter that are also tweeting about writing.  if you click on any particular writing hashtag you will typically find several of others who are also writers that are joining a conversation and want to expand their reach!

  • Janay Lampkin

    Hi Patricia!

    Great question! If you are promoting your author giveaway on your Facebook author page you can use the hashtag #BookGiveaway which will link to all of the posts including the same hashtag located on Facebook.  This won't necessarily link your book giveaway to your web page but it will connect your book giveaway with all of the other book giveaways using the same hashtag. So if someone searched #BookGiveaway on Facebook your giveaway would automatically be included and everyone would be able to search and view it.

  • Helpful!  But I'm a Luddite and still confused.  Are hashtags about improving odds of being found in google searches?  Or are they about driving traffic somewhere?  And, if the latter, how to I link to my web site?

    In the example above, what is the purpose of #AmWriting?

    Thanks so much for bring up this confusing issue, Janay.

    Kelly Hayes-Raitt

    Mosey on over to my web site and sign in for your free gift -- an mp3 of me reading my book's first chapter about a beggar in Iraq! ...And a pre-publication discount!
  • Patricia Robertson

    So if you are doing an author giveaway on your website, do you #BookGiveaway and make it a link to your web page?

  • Janay Lampkin

    Awesome Lane! I'm so pleased that these examples were helpful! Happy Hashtagging!

  • Lana Pecherczyk

    I totally agree with you. I think hashtags are hard to understand at first, but once you get them - they are valuable tools. People mistakenly just put the # symbol in front of every word, not realising this is not how hashtags work. Thanks for the sample hashtags to use.