Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Popular Hashtags and How to Use Them Effectively

by Edie Melson
Hashtags can be a confusing concept
Hashtags can be a confusing concept, so today I’m sharing a list of popular hashtags and how to use them effectively.

First, lets back up and evaluate the reason we’re all working at building an online presence. We are looking to deepen existing relationships and build new ones. But building new ones can be difficult if the only people we interact with are those we already know, either online or in person.

We can get a little bit of exposure to new folks by our existing connections introducing us, but that’s a time consuming way to go about it.

What if there was a way for someone to search a given social media network by topic and find new, interesting people to interact with? That would be a great way to grow our connections.

THAT, in the simplest of terms, is the purpose of using hashtags.

When you compose a social media update that includes one or two hashtags that summarize the topic, you are giving folks a way to find you.

For example, I’m working on a new series of Steampunk novels. Because of that, targeting a specific type of reader—one who reads Steampunk. I find those readers within the larger group of people who read science fiction (ABA – secular) or speculative fiction (CBA – Christian).

Twitter started the Hashtag revolution
Here’s a sample tweet I might send out, targeted at those specific readers: 

Step-by-step instructions to help you turn a plain top hat into a #Steampunk masterpiece! Via @EdieMelson #Specfic

Let’s break down how I composed this update. I know that the Steampunk community loves to create costumes. So I’m giving them information they’d find useful and interesting.
  • I used #Steampunk so that anyone searching Twitter for others who are interested in this genre can find me.
  • I also included @EdieMelson, because on Twitter, that is a clickable link that takes them directly to my Twitter page.
  • Finally I used #specfic, because that’s the hashtag for speculative fiction to pull in readers who might find this interesting.
  • If I was targeting the general market reader, instead of #specfic, I would have used #scifi.

NOTE: Use # (hashtags) to denote a subject, and use @ (at sign) to denote a person or organization. With organizations, you’ll find some that hashtag their names and others use the @ sign.

Twitter isn’t the only social media network that has hashtags. You can use hashtags in the same manner on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. There may be other networks that also use them, but those are the main ones.

Hashtag Etiquette
Don't use more than 2 (occasionally 3) Hashtags per update
Try to never use more than three hashtags in any one tweet. If you can make it two that’s even better. Otherwise you end up looking like a used car sales man. If you’re trying to reach more groups, schedule multiple tweets, at different times, about the same subject and target your groups two at a time.

Always research your hashtag before you use it. Never assume it’s the correct one. For example, I was targeting military families with tweets about my devotional for military families and I thought #military would be the logical hashtag. No, turns out that hashtag is frequently used by those trying to date someone in the military. Not really the demographic I was trying to reach. The hashtag I wanted was #militaryfamily and #deployment. The best place to research hashtags is also the easiest, just type it into Google or the search engine of your choice.

Now, I’m going to give you an updated list of popular hashtags. 

This list is extensive, but by no means exhaustive
For readers, the most popular hashtag right now is:
For writers, there are two popular hashtags right now:
If you’re editing something:
If you’re quoting a literary agent:


#Christfic Christian fiction
#devo Christian devotion
#devotion Christian devotion


#flashfic flash fiction
#fridayflash  flash fiction on a Friday

#Indiauthor self-publishing
#Indiepub self-publishing
#JesusTweeters from believers
#MBTWriMo My Book Therapy NaNoWriMo 
#MyBookTherapy writing community
#nano national novel writing month
#nanowrimo  national novel writing month







#pubtip  publication tips




#vss   very short story

#webfic  web fiction

#weblit   web literature

#wip   work in progress





#writetip  writing advice


#writingtips  writing advice

All of these should help you find the hashtags best suited to your situation.

I’d love to hear from you now. Twitter is ever-changing and hashtags come and they go. What are some of your favorites? Also, if you still have hashtag questions, post them below in the comments section.

Don’t forget to join the conversation,


  1. Thank you, Edie!! I try to always include hashtags, but I'm not the best at knowing them. I tend to use 4, but now I'm going to try to remember to use my Twitter id in it too. You're so good at this!!

    1. Ane, Thanks for the encouragement! Love your post today on Bibliophiles - Blessings, E

    2. Thanks Edie! I'm just learning social media and this is a confusing area for me.

  2. Dear Edie,

    I love that you talk about hash tags today. It's the number one question that I receive from family members and fellow writers. But a tip that has helped me is to do a little research on your hash tag. For me, this is extremely easy to do, just type in the hash tag you want to use into your Twitter account, and see what pops up. You might just be surprised at what comes up, it might not be at all what you would think it is. I think you pointed this out to me..... But newbie's may not have heard this yet. Also, if you're going to have a blog, Twitter is my number one trafficking source, so if you have a blog, you should also have a Twitter.

    I follow your blogs religiously, and keep up the good work. I'm amazed at all you do!

    Laurie Epps

  3. I didn't know anything about researching hash tags before this post today. How do you research hash tags and find out who they target?

    Do I need to have a blog post about a certain subject in order to tweet something? Otherwise, I don't quite get it.

    1. Ellen, type the hashtag into a search engine, like Google. For instance, if you're researching #write, just type it into Google and the search results will give you sample social media updates and you can see if they are similar to what you're posting.

      You don't have to have a blog post about a topic you want to talk about. Twitter and all social media platforms are first and for most a conversation. Post a question or make a statement and ask others to share their thoughts.

      You can also post social media updates about blog posts you've read and found helpful. Thats what I do a lot of.

      Hope this helps,

  4. Thank you, Edie. I've started a list for myself and have been doing the research but I think it is the most time consuming thing ever. I hope it gets easier as I go along--I'm sure it will. Thank you again for offering your wisdom to all of us!

    1. Crystal, research is great, but don't over think this. Hashtags are tools, and they change frequently. Just pick a few that work and go with it. Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

    2. I tweet updates but I've never used hash tags. Thanks for your tips. I may feel comfortable enough to jump in and try it now. Blessings to you!

  5. Thanks for helping to get us through this social maze. lol. I'm learning.

    1. Pat, I'm glad this was helpful. Please let me know how else I can help! Blessings, E

  6. Wow, this post was so on time! I'm trying to make new connections and my kids and I were discussing hashtags the other day. My 11-year old told me that hashtags were a way "to make you look cooler online." I Thank God for YOUR advice:)

    1. Erika, I'm glad this was timely. And although I'm not sure about the cool part, using hashtags will give your updates the look of someone who's up-to-date with social media. thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  7. So thankful for your help in untangling the mystery of social media. This learning curve has been greater than I expected -- it's so hard to keep it all straight, but, thankfully, I know I can just come to your website and find the answer to my your great book, which I refer to often!

  8. This is very helpful, Edie. Thanks so much!

  9. I'd just like to add that the Christian indie group just started a #Christindie tag...for sharing helpful indie news and connecting w/Christian self-published or hybrid authors! Thanks for this tweeting primer, Edie!

  10. Thanks for this, Edie. That helps a lot.