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  • Blog

    Social media questions you were too embarrassed to ask – Part 1. What the heck is a #hashtag?

    9/20/2015

    Question Mark SlantedIf you have some experience on social media you might be sitting at your desk thinking – “Seriously who doesn’t know what a hashtag is?” And that’s why this is the first in my series –
    Social media questions you were too embarrassed to ask.
    The truth is social media has it’s own rules and language and if you’re not across them the whole idea of participating in social media is daunting. The language of social media is dominated by terms and language and many, many acronyms and abbreviations that confuse people.

    I’ve met lots of people lately who are new to Facebook, don’t “get” Twitter, think Instagram is for young people and have no idea clue what in the known universe Pinterest is. Some of these people want to know but feel silly when they ask and some of them NEED to know but can’t get simple answers.

    I’m going to do a series of simple blog posts that help answer some of these questions. These are questions that people ask me in real life and I try and explain in simple language.

    So let’s get started.
    What the heck is a #hashtag?
    Here is my simple explanation – if the internet is a giant encyclopedia then the #hashtag is a way to look through the index of knowledge and find something.

    If you are on Twitter or Facebook for example and you want to look up pandas you search #pandas (see just pop that hashtag in front) and you will find all the posts by people who have used that hashtag ie people who want to share their panda info with you.

    See what I did just here and what I found (such cute pandas)
    #Pandas Screenshot
    And it works the same way on Twitter.

    On Twitter people also use #hastags to follow certain things that interest them. Kind of like putting a bookmark in that encyclopedia so you can find new information. Here’s a picture of my own Tweetdeck page (Tweetdeck is a platform to look at or sort Twitter information). As you can see each column represents a #hastag.
    Twitter Screenshot
    So that’s it…a #hashtag is a way to categorise and look for something on social media.

    Comments

    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    9/30/2015 05:11:30 am

    Excellent explanation! It really is that simple. A hashtag is a way of indexing topics. And, boy, is it a great tool for searching! I find all kinds of gems searching topics by hashtags.

    Jayne Denker
    9/30/2015 06:12:17 am

    I feels ya–my mom, a senior citizen, is completely disinterested in anything internet-related, but sometimes she’ll ask a question about it, and I have to wrack my brain to figure out the simplest explanation so she’ll be able to grasp the concept. Great explanation of those pesky things! (In my day it was a number sign! *insert Simpsons pic of newspaper with headline ‘Old Man Yells at Cloud” here*)

    Lee Ann Howlett
    9/30/2015 08:50:57 pm

    Nice and easy explanation! I find myself making up my own hashtags constantly on Twitter to draw attention to a tweet. As a former librarian, maybe it’s in my blood to want to categorize or index everything. 🙂

    Tracy Krimmer
    10/1/2015 09:22:49 am

    So, hashtags. For the longest time I *despised* when people used them on FB. IMO they were meant for Instagram and Twitter. Now when I do takeovers they are awesome. Hashtag in the event #Krimmer1 or something for each giveaway at the end of the post and you can easily go back and find your posts 🙂
    Reply
    Monique
    10/4/2015 07:53:37 pm

    That’s an awesome tip for takeovers and FB parties and #hashtags…I really hate that searching through for winners of prizes the next day!

  • Blog

    Writing on Wednesday – 5 ways not to feel isolated as a writer

    4/7/2015

    Photo Booth Pictures - Photo booth fun at RWA 2014!We all have the image of the starving writer, sitting in an attic on the Left Bank of Paris, wearing a beret and living on coffee and red wine.

    The truth is most writers would be starving if they only write for a living and most can’t afford to get to Paris so they’re living on mac and cheese or Vegemite toast (and coffee and red-wine) in their country of origin. That image is correct in as much as writing is a lonely and generally solitary existence and people who talk to the characters in their head for fun can get a little bit nuts.

    Lucky for us in the 21st century there are lots of ways to write and curb the loneliness are isolation.

    Here are five suggestions for anyone starting out or anyone just sitting at home pulling out their hair strand-by-strand.

    1. Join a writers’ group
    The truth is a writers group is the very best way to connect with other writers. It seems like a really scary thing to do and it takes courage to leave your home with your precious novel, poem or play and go share it with complete strangers and it is. On the other hand these are people who love writing, love reading and know exactly what you are going through.

    So how do you find a writer’s group in your area?

    In Australia every state has a Writers Center and there are also several regional centers. They host writer’s groups and they have lists of groups you can join and get in touch with. (Check out my Writing Resources page for a few of them).

    There are also wonderful writing organisations that offer writing groups and critique partners such as The Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of Australia. Find a group and take a chance.

    Not every group is a good fit for you, but don’t be put off if the first one you try isn’t right. Your people are out there.

    2. Attend a writers’ conference and oragnisation
    The first time you attend a writers conference is terrifying but the opportunities you gain far out-weight the vomit-inducing fear. Every weekend all over the world there are writers conferences taking place. Some are genre specific, which is perfect for many, but lots are not and there really is a conference for everyone.

    Not only will a conference help you feel less alone because you will be surrounded by writers you will learn new skills, hone your craft and make friends. Of course you won’t make friends if you hide in your room mainlining coffee so go mainline coffee in the breakout rooms.

    I know lots of people who have met their best friends, writing partners and literary soul mates at writing conferences. You could too.

    Even if you don’t do a conference first off most writing organisations offer great workshops, newsletters, online resources and other opportunities for you to work on your craft and be in contact with others.

    3. National Novel Writing Month
    This is an event that takes place every November where like-minded people across the globe all endeavour to write a 50,000 word novel.

    There is a vibrant online community you can join who will help encourage you, plug plot holes and answer your research questions. More than that they hold local events such as write-ins, overnight parties and other gatherings. You can meet writers in your genre and in your hometown. That’s got to be a good thing.

    4. Facebook Groups
    Social media is supposed to be social. Those cat and dinner photos are fantastic but that’s not really the idea. There are thousands of Facebook groups just for writers and they’re a great way to connect with others. Whether you write chicklit, speculative fiction, historical romance or thrillers your tribe is out there on Facebook wanting to help you. Do a search and you’ll be surprised who you find.

    NB. Some groups can be full of trolls (though that hasn’t been my experience) so just read for a few days before diving in if that is a concern for you.

    5. Twitter
    Do you love a #hashtag? Well, then your people may well be on twitter. There are lots of very popular hashtags where you can connect with others. #amwriting, #amreading, #amblogging for example. Most writing groups have their own as well. If you’re twitter savvy you’ll have no trouble finding a hastag where you can connect with people.

    These are just five very easy ways. If you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear them.