Facebook has joined twitter in using hash-tags now in posts online. For some this is a nightmare come true as they #realise #that #they #will #see #endless #lists of hash-tags. But it is as responsible authors that we must learn to control the urge to try to reach everyone and aim to reach those readers who would really want to read our posts. Another point I’ve heard recently is that the hash-tags won’t do much for visibility. I am afraid that assumption is false. Like on twitter, users can now just click on a hash-tag and see other posts using that same label. In experiments I have run posts on my facebook page have meant that posts with hash-tags can get 100% more views. That is an outstanding difference and surely worth the investment.
So how do we probably use hash-tags? Well here are six pointers I feel are necessary.
1. Use sparingly
Seriously, use only one or two. Not endless lines of hash-tags. If you find this difficult think carefully who you really want to communicate your message to and then think what hash tag they would want to search for. Use that once, maybe twice and you’ll get a clean, engaging post.
2. Create a good informative post
Facebook is not twitter (well duh) which means short messages are not going to get the same results. People like length on Facebook, so why don’t you write an informative post for people to read – and forget length. The better the quality of the content – the higher chance that people will share your post – increasing your exposure.
3. Create dialogue
Instead of writing news bulletins, write conversation starters. The hash-tags will drive readers to you; now keep them there for them to get to know you with good conversation.
4. Minimise your posts with hash-tags
If every post you write has hash-tags then people will get turned off quickly. Use them on posts that really need extra exposure, such as promotions, new releases, etc.
5. Don’t use hash-tags on groups
Don’t, just don’t. You don’t want readers to find your secret hangout and read what you wrote about someone who didn’t like your book. Also hash-tag-ed posts can even be read by outsiders of secret groups. And do you really want people spying on what you are saying behind closed doors.
6. Make sure your special hash-tags aren’t used by someone else
Funnily enough this may seem like an obvious one, but have you really thought about it when creating a hash-tag for your book or series? Do a search on twitter and check to see if someone else is using it. You don’t want to have your readers do a search for other posts by you on a subject only for them to be diverted by another author who uses the same hash-tag.
EDIT: Since writing this (although before this went out) I have since found out that writing after a link will remove the preview on Facebook. So if you have a great cover to show off, or an awesome blog picture, make sure your hashtags (and other writing) are in the middle of the text. Many thanks to Valerie Douglas for pointing that out to me.
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