Social Sheila Video: get your head around hashtags

By Sheila Averbuch 

If you're new to Twitter, hashtags (the # symbols) can be one of the most off-putting idiosyncracies. But once you understand that the symbols merely flag up an important concept in the tweet, you'll realise how helpful they can be in building your network and deepening your understanding of the industry.

Twitter, of course, only gives you a brief sentence or two to express yourself. Hashtags mark a certain word in your sentence as the key topic, to make it easier for other Twitter users to find and read tweets on a common subject. It's interesting to note that it was the people using Twitter, not the company itself, who first started to use the # symbol.

"Hashtags mark a certain word in your sentence as the key topic"

These days, you'll see hashtags appearing everywhere from the opening credits of television shows to websites promoting conferences. In this how-to video (click the bullseye icon in the video frame to watch it full-screen), I'll show you how to search Twitter for relevant hashtags, and how to go a step further and track down the most influential Twitter users chatting on hot topics, using Hootsuite.

"I recommend you limit yourself to a single hashtag per tweet"

If you want to start using relevant hashtags such as #kidlit, I recommend you limit yourself to a single hashtag per tweet; otherwise your tweets may drift into the realm of illegibility. For those of you who already use hashtags regularly, we love it if you could share useful search terms in the comments section below.

If you would like to see other how-to videos, email me at

Sheila Averbuch lives in East Lothian in Scotland and is currently working on SPACE KIDS AND THE SPY FROM PLANET 12, a sci-fi adventure for 9-11's. She holds an MA in journalism from Stanford University and a BA from Harvard University in American History & Literature. Sheila is managing director of the content services and social media training agency ENNclick and blogs at



  1. Great post Sheila! Writers looking for an agent should definitely check out #askagent and #subtips - loads of invaluable advice & insider tips for submissions.

  2. Thanks Mel - I noticed #askagent from time to time but hadn't been following it...I will now.

  3. Educational as always Sheila - you've also begun to demystify hoot suite too !

  4. A bit of self-promotion here, but we use #inclusiveminds when talking about inclusive and diverse children's books.

  5. Great search terms. I'm going to check these out.


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