Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Road Less Traveled: Are You Using Hash Tags to Properly Direct Traffic?

by Rusty Fischer

I’m a practical guy. So when I was given the chance to do some “how to” social media blogs for Decadent Publishing, I thought long and hard about how to make them useful.

It was really hard! I mean, I can talk all day about Facebook and Twitter, about blogging and building a social media platform, or even a brand, but… what gets results? That’s what I’m interested in and, I figure, if you’re taking time out of your busy branding day, that’s what you’re interested in, too.

So, let’s talk about hash tags! Seriously. I love hash tags. I talk about them a lot. I have great advice for using them. And yet, whenever I go to send a tweet, I invariably end up using the same ones over and over again.

If it’s for one of my zombie stories or books, I’ll use #zombie. Or #zombies. Wow, great Russ! Very imaginative! If it’s for a vampire book or werewolf story or demon poem (hey, I get around), it’s inevitably going to be #vamps or #werewolves or, you guessed it, #demons.

I have all these great intentions, ideas and passions around hash tags. I’ve even written a book about them! But when it comes down to tweeting a review or a guest post or an interview or a giveaway, I’m usually so rushed for time I just end up falling back on my old familiar #zombie tag.

But, here’s the thing: hash tags are like road signs. Certain people follow certain signs. When I use the #zombie hash tag, pretty much the same people go wherever I’m sending them, be it to my blog, Amazon.com, the Decadent page or some book blogger’s website.

And that’s fine; we all love repeat traffic! But… whenever I get inventive, try something new or use a different and unique hash tag, I invariably get not only more visitors to my blog but new visitors as well. I can tell because generally I get two to three new followers every time I try this experiment.

That’s because I’ve put up a new road sign, on a new lane, and different people are following it where I want them to go! That’s the beauty, and the power, of hash tags.

And it’s very simple to do. If you’re looking for a new hash tag to use, whether you write YA, romance, erotica, cozy mysteries, hardboiled noir or self-help, just go to Twitter and type in the hash tag you always use, like #romance, #mystery, #teen or whatever.

Then scroll down through the results. Generally people use more than one hash tag. So with me, I generally use #zombie #yalit #giveaway, or whatever I’m promoting that day.

So if you’re looking at, say, the #romance hash tag results, you’ll see #romance of course but, next to it, you might see something new, like #paranormal or #menage or even #marriage. (I just literally performed this experiment for you, so these are all “live” on Twitter right now!)

To find more hash tags to use, click on #paranormal or #menage or #marriage and see what others are listed there. And so on and so on. This is a great way to not only find new hash tags to use as single tags but great ways to find good combinations to use to narrow down the travelers you’re trying to attract.

Literally as I was writing this post, I took a break, typed the hash tag #zombies into the search box on my Twitter page, and using this same, exact method I discovered six new hash tags, including:

1.           #horror
2.           #zombiapocalypse
3.           #thewalkingdead
4.           #thelivingdead
5.           #paranormal
6.           #supernatural

So, now when I’m posting a review of one of my zombie books, instead of just, always and forever using the #zombie hashtag, I can use one of those above.

I’m not saying this is a silver bullet solution to increasing blog traffic 5,000% overnight, but try it for yourself and see if perhaps by mixing, matching and using a few new hash tags on your next few tweets, you don’t at least see a bump in blog traffic and potentially, blog followers.

Yours in YA, 

About the Author 
A former public school teacher, Rusty Fischer has written for such educational magazines as Learning, The Mailbox and Teaching K-8. Now a full-time freelance writer, Rusty is the author of several YA supernatural novels for Decadent Publishing, including Ushers, Inc. and Panty Raid at Zombie High, as well as the Reanimated Readz series of 99-cent zombie short stories. You can read more about his current and upcoming projects, and 
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Viari said...

Come to think of it, I may search using hashtags, but I never put them in my tweets. I just never thought of it the way you so wonderfully put it. Next time i'm using hashtags. Thank you.

Barbara Elsborg said...

Thanks so much for this! I didn't really GET hashtags but I can see the value now. I'm off to try it out!

Tamaria Soana said...

I never use hashtags in my tweets. I'll start doing that right away!

Thanks for the great and informative post.