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Monday, March 3, 2014

Using Hashtags to Sell Books

#hashtags #socialmedia #SMM

If you are trying to sell orand promote books, or any other product or service, you need to be using hashtags with every promotional tweet and social media post. 

What is a Hashtag?

Even if you are not on Twitter, you may have seen the little hashtag symbol with the pound sign (#) in front of a word or a combination of letters and numbers such as #ff, #news, #jobs, #icarly, #glee, etc. These hashtags are used to identify and keep up with conversations and news about specific topics. Think of hashtags like the tags used to identify articles, blog posts and Amazon products for topics or items in a search. While hashtags originated on Twitter, it is no longer the only place where hashtags are used. Hashtags are now used on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.   

Building an online platform is hard. You have to be creative in order to be heard above the noise of your competitors and all the nonsense conversations on social media these days. Lets face it, now that people can self-publish so easily, it seems like there are more authors than readers. 

Readers only have so much time between working, raising a family, and living. No avid reader has time to read all the books on his/her TBR pile. They have to pick and choose due to finances and time. As a result, some books and authors will never be read as often as others. Therefore, you have to use every available resource and tool to increase your chances of being noticed by readers searching for books. Hashtags can help you beat out some of your competition, especially those who aren't using them. 

How to Use Hashtags
1) Put hashtags above the first line of text or in the first sentence. Do this because when the blog post is shared on social media sites, it pulls the title of the blog post and the first line of text. See the examples at the beginning of this blog post. It may seem strange, but it works. 

2) Register your personal hashtags. While you can't buy or own hashtags like a domain name, you can register it with or to better manage your personal hashtag related to you or your books. Use a term to represent your author name and/or each individual book you write or even a series. This will help you keep up with the flow of responses and discussions around your books during new book launches and/or campaigns. Here is an example of a hashtag I created for a series of books #MacGregorLegacy

3) Use common book related hashtags.While it's a wonderful idea to create and register your own hashtags, some common hashtags will also bring readers to your blogs and social media sites. For instance, bloggers who post on the CFBA Blog Tour, include hashtags such as #christianfiction and/or #christianromanceThis allows them to promote other authors' books, and at the same time, lure reads to their site to discover other books as well. For a list of book related hashtags, click here. 

4) Use the #SampleSunday or #TeaserTuseday hashtags to post short excerpts to introduce your work to new readers. The Sample Sunday idea originally came from David Wisehart, but it took off with other authors. Since then Sharon Rose created a Sample Sunday Facebook page. You can read more about the idea here. Some authors post first chapters to promote their books. Why not take it a step further and post sentences or paragraphs each Sunday or Tuesday, leading up to and through a book launch for the first chapter? 

Are you using hashtags? Have you ever registered a hashtag? 


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