Hash Tags—The Trouble with Twitter Tribbles


Normally, I only talk about social media on Wednesdays, but today we are going to talk about something vitally important for anyone using Twitter to build a platform. Hash tags. Hash tags are wonderful. They can connect us to people all over the globe that we could never meet any other way. Hash tags are a powerful way to build communities and friendships. They can also be a fabulous tool for making information manageable.

And yet…

Ah, the trouble with Tribbles hash tags. Hash tags are so cute and adorable. They make Twitter fun and help us connect with people all over the globe. But, before we get too excited…


Before we talk about how hash tags can get out of hand, you might be asking yourself this question:

Um…Kristen. What’s a hash tag?

Fair enough. For those who happen to be hash tag savvy, feel free to scroll down. For the rest of you, you might find yourself asking, What the heck is that # thingy I see all the time?
***Important NoteTo make the most out of hash tags, I highly recommend you go download TweetDeck or HootSuite. These applications will help you be able to manage thousands of tweeps and also will help you make the most out of hash tags. These applications will also help you quickly spot a Twitter Tribble outbreak and shut it down before it gets out of hand.

Where was I? Oh, yes! That little # symbol is going to help you build a worldwide following. I know. That’s partly how I did it.

So what’s a hash tag? Well, when we first join Twitter, we are all alone…save for the celebrities that Twitter gives us, but it isn’t like Ashton Kutcher and Lady Ga Ga are going to chit chat with us. So, we’re going to have to make some friends.

Hash tags help us meet people who love to talk about the same things we do. When we place a # with a keyword at the end of our tweet, Twitter slots our tweet into a conversation shared by people all over the world bound by topic.

Some popular writer hashtags are:

#amwriting, #pubtip, #indie, #selfpub, #amediting, #nanowrimo, #askagent #publaw

The BEST writer hash tag, of course, is #MyWANA and here is why. We are also the best namely because we actively support all the other writing hash tags.

Thus, when I tweet about my blog, often it looks like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #MyWANA #pubtip #indie

My Tweet now will not just go out to my specific followers, it will be seen by the THOUSANDS of people all over the world who might be participating in those three popular hash tag conversations.

Why I recommend you download TweetDeck is that you can slot each hash tag into its own column and then follow the people and conversations. When it comes to social media, we must interact and be vested in others, or we risk being perceived as fake and selfish. The hash tag is to help us meet and converse with others. It is not a new way to spam our fellow tweeps.


Meet the Twitter Tribble

Hash tags on their own are mostly harmless, but plug them into any tool that automates and now you have a Twitter Tribble. Sort of like Don’t feed these suckers after midnight and DO NOT get them wet! My advice is DO NOT PLUG HASH TAGS INTO AUTOMATION.

Using an auto-tweet system with hash tags is a BAD idea. Recently, I’ve run into some issues with Triberr. Triberr is an amazing tool for aggregating all our favorite blogs into one spot, and I use it and love it. The Triberr folks make it super easy to read all our favorite blogs and to promote our favorite bloggers. There is even a function that will allow us to automatically post for a fellow blogger. This function is awesome because then we can support our favorite bloggers.

This function is fantastic, but it can land us in a world of trouble if we aren’t careful.

If we set up a small bit of automation, that’s fine, so long as we are still actively engaging on Twitter. If we have Triberr set to automatically tweet for some of our favorite blogs, that isn’t a big deal so long as we are not solely relying on that automation.

Automation is a double-edged sword. Sure, it gets content out there, but, if people suspect automation, that content will be rendered invisible. Thus, the “exposure” does no good because no one is paying attention.

Twitter Tribbles Take Over and KILL Hash Tags

Remember the trouble with the real Tribbles? So long as there were only a couple of Tribbles, they were cute and fuzzy and fun and everyone liked them. Same with hash tags. Hash tags help me be able to discover content I might not see any other way.

If I am not following @FifiFakename, but Fifi writes a mind-blowing post about world domination using paper scissors, I will never see that life-changing blog unless Fifi tweets it using a hash tag I follow. So if Fifi tweets:

@FifiFakename Formula to take over the world with paper scissors (link here) #MyWANA

Now, no matter where Fifi tweets from, I can now see her content scroll by because of the hash tag. See? Cute. Fuzzy. Fun.

But what if Fifi starts relying on automation? She just got the hash tag wet.


What if Fifi automatically tweets her blog with #MyWANA. Oh, but she also has 52 favorite bloggers and she wants to make sure the WANA peeps see those blogs, too? So she plugs in the automation and adds the #MyWANA hash tag to the end. What happens now?

A Twitter Tribble is Born

MyWANA The Love Revolution just suddenly turned into the MyWANA The Link Revolution. Fifi has single-handedly crowded out any other content on #MyWANA. In an effort to build more community, she’s just blitzkrieged one.

This can happen easily if we automate, but if we are at least present on Twitter, we can shut down the Twitter Tribbles before they multiply too much and take over. But, if we are using Triberr to do all our tweeting for us? Then we aren’t actually present on Twitter, so we aren’t there to witness if we are gumming up a column. People could easily see this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

What’s Worse than Clogging a Column?

Clogging a column is bad enough, but gumming up a column looks especially bad if I have automated tweets meant to sound like I am tweeting in person.

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

As you can see, I have not only gummed up an entire column with my automated tweet, but I have programmed the tweet to look like a real person, though anyone with a half a brain can now tell this is automation. Now people are not only going to dislike me because I took up a whole column, they are really going to despise me because I treated them as if they were too dumb to realize there wasn’t a real person on the other end.

Few things can make a person feel more ridiculous than talking back to a bot.

Twitter Tribble Backlash

So now I have not only annoyed my followers, I have also made them distrust me. These days people are turning to their social networks for authentic word-of-mouth, and if we serve up spam, this can land us in trouble. It can damage or even ruin our reputation. People are smart and will smell an automatically generated message a mile away…and then promptly ignore us, report us or unfollow us, and, frankly, who can blame them?

What’s Even Worse than That? Real Twitter Tribble Trouble

There are all kinds of programs that will allow us to automate messages. Just use the automation very sparingly, and here is why. Let’s take a quick look at the Twitter Terms of Service:

See the one about updates containing mainly links and no personal interaction? If Twitter gets too many complaints they can shut down our account. Also, if we do something that makes them take a look at us, and our feed is nothing but link after link after link all stemming from an outside application (like Hoot Suite or Triberr), they can shut down our account. Lots of work down the drain and it all can be avoided.

Say You Must Use Some Automation

Okay, so you want to use some automation to make sure your blogger pals all get tweeted. Fine. No problem! BUT THEN THIS IS ALL THE MORE REASON TO GET ON TWITTER AND CONVERSE. Twitter is not per se, against automation. Twitter is against spam, and, if all we are doing is allowing HootSuite or Tribber to pump out link after link after link with no personal interaction, then we are no better than the “Hey get a free iPad!” bot.

Automation Doesn’t Have to Create Twitter Tribbles

Automation isn’t evil. If we are pre-programming tweets we want to make sure get out so this frees us up to chit chat and get to know people on Twitter, then we are no longer a bot. We are using a tool to more effectively connect and interact, not as a way to be lazy and get all the benefits of a community’s support without having to bother serving that community.

When hash tags become Twitter Tribbles is when the user tries to use automation as a substitute for authentic attendance.

TweetDeck Can Help Us Spot Twitter Tribbles

Even if we don’t automate, we can still have an outbreak of Twitter Tribbles. The reason that I recommend TweetDeck (or HootSuite) is that it makes it easy to spot if our tweets are gumming up a column. I scan the #amwriting column to make sure I don’t already have a tweet talking about my blog in that column.

If I do, I use another hash tag #MyWANA or just wait to tweet about my blog. I try to only tweet 3 times a day to self-promote my blog. Morning, afternoon, evening to catch different Twitter crowds.

One way we can prevent RT Twitter Tribbles is by deleting the original hash tags and adding new ones. So if I tweet:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

My friends can delete my hash tags and add new ones:

RT@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writer #scm

This keeps the Twitter Tribbles at bay (keeps us from clogging a column) and it also extends my tweet to new #s and new groups of people, so it’s a huge help.

The Golden Twitter Rule

Make it a rule to promote others more than yourself, to be genuinely present, and you will rule the Twitterverse and even make some really awesome friends. Remember, social media most successful when it is a team effort.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever talked back to a bot only later to feel like a tard? Do you have any tips, tools, suggestions?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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  1. I use Triberr to set my tribe tweets to go out at intervals, but have not tried automation, where I am not individually approving those tweets to go out! Wow, I had no idea what twouble one can get in! thanks for the heads up! Often I only hashtag blog posts that I want to send to a particular group. I know that for some tweets, all I see is their promo tweets. I need to work on my lists now, that I have my columns sort of working for me. Because I do have people I’d like to follow more than their promo tweets. Wow, feel like I’m dancing through landmines some days. LOL! Many thanks!

  2. Thanks for this timely post! I’m staying with TweetDeck and no automation. While I’ve heard great things about Triberr, my brain is in social media overload and I want to add Pinterest to my online circus … er, I mean sites. My Google Reader works great for subscribing to and keeping up with people’s blogs and I guess I’m just from the old-school, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ generation. This last thing I need is an outbreak of Twitter Tribbles on my TweetDeck wrecking havoc with the Twitterverse!

  3. Thanks Kristen for all this great info. I’m not a Twitter user, I have an account but it has seemed to me that most people use tweets for such trivial information that it hasn’t interested me. I am a writer and painter and started my blog on WordPress to inspire and encourage others but have not really figured out how to connect “out there”. I do publicize as they suggest but my Twitter link doesn’t seem to work. No idea why and not tech-savvy enough to figure that one out….Anyway i look forward to your posts—they are truly educational

    1. I endorse these sentiments. I have a Twitter account, but haven’t figured out how to use it. I downloaded Tweet Deck, but can’t open it. I’m afraid to use the # and @ as I don’t know where they lead. This talk of Triberr makes me even more wary.

    • patricefitzgerald on April 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm
    • Reply

    This is very helpful, Kristen. I’ve had fun on Twitter, but sometimes I just get too busy. I recently did two days of Hootsuite tweeting, mostly advertising my own books, but I always try to be doing live tweets as well — and RT’ing (that’s retweeting for those who aren’t yet fluent in Tweet) others. It felt like too much (I did a self-promo tweet nearly every hour one day) so I stopped… but it did seem to sell books. I also use the #MyWANA hashtag sometimes, and I am constantly over on the #MyWANA feed RTing others… but it rarely gets reciprocated. I guess it’s not enough to RT… people don’t know my name and think I’m simply spamming. Any suggestions?

      • Jennette Marie Powell on April 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm
      • Reply

      I would love some guidance on this too! I hardly ever tweet about my books bc I’m afraid of it looking like spam. Yet I’ve heard it does indeed help sales. How often is enough without crossing the spam line?

      1. Three times a day is a wonderful median. Do some research, try to get them in EARLY in the rush periods (Do them in the middle, they get lost, do them in the off periods, they don’t get seen. . .) and you should get the most visibility for the least output.

      2. In her books, Kristen gives a 1/3 rule. 1/3 conversation, 1/3 reciprocation (like RTing other people), and 1/3 self (either books or blogs you’ve written). I don’t often hit that balance. I’m heavy on RTing other people, then some days I get really chatty.

      3. Hard question to answer. I wouldn’t do it more than a time or two a day. If we dig in and chat with people, they will want to look at our bio and see what we do/write. I have never bought a book from a link advertising a book. BUT I have bought more books than I can ever read from writers who were so friendly I’d feel like a putz if I didn’t buy their book.

  4. So informative. Thanks for taking time to help us navigate Tribbles…er Twitter, especially better understanding # hash tags. Good Stuff.

  5. You are absolutely correct about social media being a team effort. If we all promote each other… the effect of that promotion is ten-fold greater (or more) than if we are solely promoting ourself. Oh, and following self-promoters gets to be just plain boring and they lose their audiences QUICKLY.

  6. Your post came at just the right time. I was just getting really annoyed at seeing the same post over and over again from people I really want to follow but who are driving me away with automation! Thanks for solving the mystery! Will try to retweet this with some new hatch tags!

  7. I’d like to add that Twitter watches for too many hashtags in a single tweet. The general rule (This is Twitter’s) is no more than three hashtags.

    One thing I really need to work on more is RTing others, but I’ll admit to being victim to my eyes glazing over at automated tweets!

  8. In issuing a warning, you gave the exact reason I love Triberr so much. By using it to promote bloggers I enjoy reading, I’m able to spend my limited time on Twitter talking to people, checking out fresh links, and replying to people who’ve messaged me. It’s part of how I balance social media with life. I really like to be sure I have time to talk. It’s sad, though, when I go check my favorite columns in TweetDeck for that socialization and no one is talking. As an introvert, I’m much better at joining conversations than starting them.

    A couple of things I am trying to do to make sure I don’t turn into an automation bot…
    -I always read the posts on Triberr before sending them out. This lets me customize the tweet and hashtags better, and makes sure I’ve vetted what I’m sending out. Sometimes this mean I can’t send out everything, but I think that’s better than blindly tweeting everything.
    -Since I know most people tweet and RT posts the first day, I’ll often hold posts for a day or two in the hope of not clogging a stream with the same tweet and of getting it in front of fresh eyes.
    -If I see three posts in my Triberr stream with similar topics (e.g. writing), I don’t tweet them in a row. That way, even if I can’t be online when they all go out, I’m reducing my risk of taking over a stream.

    1. Great advice there Marcy! I do the same three things you list – it just takes a bit of thought to make Twitter a more valuable tool and keep the tribbles at bay.

    2. Good tactics. Triberr is an amazing tool if used properly. But lately the automation has been taking over quite a few hash tags, including MyWANA. I found myself going to Facebook because I could find any humans to talk to. But, live and learn and this is why I am here. Sometimes we do things with a good intention but they can go sideways if we aren’t educated about what we can do to keep the true intent…community.

    3. Ooooo this is where a good Facebook “like” would be handy. Great triberr strategy Marcy. I haven’t thought to hold similar posts.

      1. Glad I could help by sharing what I’m trying 🙂

        1. I’m sure I annoy people in the Triberr groups I’m part of b/c I often don’t send things out. But when I do, I make them highly individual. Also, because I write humor, I try to add a humourous intro to the posts I pimp from Triberr, just so I won’t annoy my followers. It’s part of my love/hate relationship with Triberr. So, in short, I’m going for quality, not quantity.

  9. If you know me on Twitter you know I tweet a ton of links and use whatever hashtags I think relevant which almost always includes #MyWANA. I do this because I love the WANA peeps and have been with the Love Revolution from almost day one – so if I’m going to share the WANAites are at the top of the list of people I want to keep informed.

    One thing I NEVER do is automate any tweet, EVER – yes, I do schedule them because no one wants to have a deluge of 50 tweets go out in a two minute time frame. I schedule using Triberr (as Pauline mentioned above) and Tweetdeck for my non-Triberr buds. For my own posts I try to schedule them at least 3 hours apart so that I’m not beating anyone over the head while still ensuring that promotion occurs – because hey, that is one of the reasons we use Twitter and Facebook as a part of our platforms. Even then, I vary the hashtags from promo to promo in order to spread the news around rather than barking in the same ear repeatedly like a small dog on crack.

    It can be a fine line at times but with a bit of practice and creativity we can help each other out and see that all the great information that gets posted each week lands in the hands of those that can use it.

    1. I was assuming automation and scheduling were synonymous. Could you explain the difference?

      1. No difference. If you are not physically there typing in the tweet then it is technically automation. Now, if I want to schedule (automate) tweets announcing my workshop because I get busy chatting and totally get a blonde moment and always forget, that is fine…so long as I am actively talking to people on Twitter. Scheduling/automation is not bad. It is just bad when it takes the place of personal interaction.

        1. Just to clarify – by scheduling, I mean: I physically input the tweet and type in the hashtags I think relevant after reading the post and then set a time for it to go out. Sometimes I read a post at 1 am. I could tweet it then but who would see it? Scheduling allows me to place the post at a time when it is likely to be seen by those that will be interested in it. Yes, this is a form of automation but it is using it to give the best advantage to the person I’m tweeting. In your post I see automation meaning “set to do things without personal input – click this button and everything is in place” – that is the one thing we shouldn’t be doing, such as auto-responses. For retweets, I fail to see the advantage of a “live tweet” vs. a scheduled one. Am I wrong in thinking this?

          1. Just make sure it is limited and that you are taking time to be present on Twitter. That is the balance. I don’t mind scheduled tweets, but it can get annoying. Before Triberr, if I saw one of the WANAs tweet a link, I could assume they were there and say hello and talk to them. Lately? Nothing. And I kind of feel stupid for talking to a preprogrammed tweet. And this has been happening enough that it has started to undermine MyWANA. No one is there to respond. No conversation, no community.

          2. Understand completely. I actually stopped using Twitter for more then links for the same reason and it does correspond with the advent of Triberr. A few other commenters pointed the same thing out – we tweet but no one is there to respond – if no one is there then why are we tweeting? This gives me a great deal to think about. Will be reviewing my personal Twitter policy now – has to be a better way to handle things. Thanks for the wake up call 🙂

        2. Here’s a question though: How can this be reconciled with someone who works full time and doesn’t have access to Twitter? I work at a company during the day, and I’m on the East Coast (three hours ahead of California). One of the reasons I schedule tweets throughout the day is simply so the tweets aren’t clustered at 6AM ET and 6PM ET. I treat the tweets a little like message boards — if someone replies, I’ll reply, but not necessarily immediately because other things are going on.

          1. It doesn’t matter so long as you are getting on in the evenings and tweeting. What my gripe is about is using automation to substitute for attendance. I was getting to the point that Twitter was nothing but link after link after link. It had gotten so bad that I’d started spending more and more time on Facebook. I finally decided to blog about it to educate people about the mess all this preprogramming was creating.

          2. That’s true — very hard to start a conversation when people are just sending out links.

          3. That was my only gripe. I didn’t mind some of the automation because it kept my favorite blogs top of mind….but then it got to where it was ALL links, and then Twitter is just a spam channel. Twitter had always been kind of bad about that, which was why MyWANA was such a lovely oasis. But then even MyWANA was getting blitzed. But it looks like all is back to normal. Yay!

  10. 2 Questions:
    1. Do you self host your blog or is it exclusively wp.com?
    2. Can I fly wherever you are, take you to a fabulous meal in exchange for some tips? 🙂

    1. If you hover your mouse over the picture of a tribe mate, it tells you how many of your posts they have tweeted, how many of their you have tweeted and brings up an automation feature. BUT, it costs bones to do that. Not sure how many, since I don’t do that. And I’m hoarding my bones to invite people. And, as far as I can see right now, we aren’t earning bones (which I hope will change soon!).

      So scheduling occurs in your settings. You choose how often your tweets go out. 20 min is closest you can schedule. So as you go down your stream and approve tweets, they will go out no closer than 20 apart, but you can schedule them to go out every hour. You can also tweet them immediately, if you want to by choosing the “more sharing options” to the right of the approve button.

      I would imagine there are other ways to automate tweets. Programs and such. I used Bookbuzzer for a while (until I read Kristen’s books), but even then only had them go out once a week.

      When you use tweetdeck, you can REALLy see it when people send the same thing, or almost same thing to a hashtag. I try really hard to send interesting content to the hashtags, I follow. I also try to find something I can RT and then only send promo posts when I have something new, like a new blog post or book news. I tried sending out promo posts over a week or so and it went okay, but I felt weird about it, I must admit. (I know, I need to work on that. LOL!)

      I”m new to MyWANA, so experimenting with the various techniques. Learning SO much!

      1. I am totally lost here Pauline. Were you intending to answer my questions?

  11. I liked this one so much (as a relatively new member to Twitter) that I am going to practice some of the new tips you taught me and tweet this post. Grins.

    1. apparently i didn’t do it well. and yes, was trying to tell you where to find the automation function in triberr. i learned a lot about triberr from Kayelle Allen’s ebook. I didn’t know I could see how many times someone had shared my blog posts, and such. there is a lot of functionality on triberr and they keep updating it. (grin)

  12. I’m not a big fan of automation. I think we have to be careful what we tweet. I for one unfollow people who clog up my account. I think a good rule for using Triberr and other services is to only tweet the blogs that are a) something that really interests you or b) something that speaks to you personally.

    Blog links that come from people who don’t send them out very often mean more than when people send them out in a constant stream. When I see a constant stream of tweets, I think that the person is just sending out whatever he sees without care; I imagine others feel the same, which makes the whole retweeting thing counter-intuitive.

    • writesromine on April 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm
    • Reply

    You are always ahead of the game, Kristin. Peeps have such a difficult time understanding twitter and #hashtags. Now instead of trying to explain it I just give them address to your blog!! Thanks for being a leader in a sometimes truly confusing digital universe

  13. Great post, Kristen! Way to keep the bots out of the quadrotriticale (I’m nerdy enough to look up how to spell it, but not so nerdy as to already KNOW, how to spell it, LOL! Actually, I was only off by one letter – ooh).

    The tricky part for me is that I only know a handful of writing hashtags, so if they’ve already been used, I’m out of luck. (Hadn’t heard of #scm for example).

    Then I start making them up, haha: #renegadehashtagger

    • paulphilipcarter on April 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm
    • Reply

    This is a great post with great ideas and I for one will be making adjustments. I definitely do NOT want to gain the reputation of being a spammer.

    However, my experience is that at least 80% of my “personal” tweets get ZERO responses. In fact, the only tweets that get responses are those addressed to specific people, and this includes the “personal” tweets I post to the #MyWANA hashtag.

    Please know I am NOT throwing around sour grapes!

    In fact this entire week (because of Kristen’s articles as well as a couple of other things I read) I have been doing a lot of soul-searching regarding my use of Twitter. I am sincerely trying to find the right balance using these tools where I can effectively and properly “market” myself and still feel like part of the community. That’s how I try to fashion my own blog posts and tweets (even the scheduled ones) because it’s good/GREAT advice to “help others first.”

    Maybe I need to find other hashtags? Not sure…


    1. Marketing doesn’t work for books anyway. The best way to again traction is to have a community. As far as I know, MyWANA is unique in its mission statement. Try making your personal tweets something that would spark conversation. If we make a statement that doesn’t give an impetus to respond. Try tweeting questions or ask for opinions or talk about something that would engage others. A lot of it is time, trial and error.

  14. I love the Star Trek refrences! LOL!!!

  15. Thanks for clarifying as well as warning! A case of too much of a good thing, the Internet is a great helper but bad master.

  16. Great post thanks! It’s seems that the more that I learn, the more that I need to learn! New to WordPress, just started by first blog, have had twitter for a little while but really not sure what I’m doing. So I’ve downloaded Tweetdeck and tweeted to #MyWAMA to promote my blog and sat back waiting for the rush – ZERO! LOL. After reading your post I can see why. I think I need to have a look at Triberr so that I can schedule tweets at different times. With # tag thing, how do I find the hash tag names to send out to people in other fields? I wouldn’t call myself a writer, but I’m really enjoying writing my first blog and learning all this stuff! I’ve bought one of your books – that’s gonna be my weekend reading.

    Look forward to more informative posts.

    1. Make sure you are connecting to #MyWANA –an N–stands for We are not alone. That’s been one of the problems we’ve run into with this over-automation. It’s crowding the stream and so we miss people’s tweet. Also make sure to get on there and interact and talk to people. We will promote who we know, not just those who use the hash tag to self-promote. It becomes a friendship of sorts and we like to support our on-line friends.

      1. Thanks Kristen, that makes perfect sense 🙂

  17. I hope you don’t mind if I reblog this! I just joined twitter about two weeks ago and I knew nothing about this. =) Plus… I loved that episode. ^_^ You have just made my week tons brighter.

  18. Reblogged this on Otherworld and Back and commented:
    I’m pretty new to all of this social networking promoting, and I know that several of my friends are as well. I came across this post by Kristen Lamb, and was instantly made wiser and more efficent. =) Go and check out her blog, if you haven’t already!

  19. Thanks, Kristen. Being new to Twitter, the hashtag rules were not clear to me. You helped me begin to understand. And, I happily posted your link on my blog.

  20. I always try to change up the hashtags when I retweet and use something different than the original post. That way it gets more visibility. Besides, it doesn’t make sense to me to send the same message out to the same group!

  21. Very helpful info! I knew about the hashtags, but I’m not “automated” on Twitter by any means. (I tried joining Triberr but couldn’t understand what it was about and I’m waiting to take a workshop about it.) Is it okay if we NEVER use HootSuite and TweetDeck (couldn’t understand them either) and we just post occasionally links about articles we’ve read online and quotes that we enjoyed with others? That’s all I really do and I have something like 400 followers. It’s probably not doing much to sell my books (I rarely send more than one Tweet about my book release or a new blog post) but at least no one has accused me of spamming them or thinking I’m a robot.

    I really do miss the good ol’ fashioned “email loop chats” and other online chats writers and readers enjoyed about 10 years ago when the ebook was still relatively unknown. We were all present in real time… no automation, no spamming, no robots. If writers want to come across as “real persons” in social media then perhaps it’s time to give up all this automation and get back to personal appearances on line?

  22. Hey Kristen,

    I’ve been noticing your facebook posts on #wana1011 this week and had rec’d the message. But this post really puts everything into perspective for me. I’m not on Triberr and have looked at it. Strangely enough when I retweet a msg I always send it out to different #tags rather than just churning it out to the same peeps all the time. And I love talking to peeps. This made logical sense to me. But I’d already noticed that not many peeps do this. Jen Talty, Dee Dee Scott, Rhonda Nelson, Karen McFarland, Coleen Patrick and MANY more are just some of the peeps who are awesome retweeters and do it right. I’m on tweetdeck which enables me to control where I want the msg to go. When I retweet a msg I always think to myself ‘who’s not seen this?’ and try and target where I want it to go. Also I never retweet unless I’ve read the blogpost because my followers trust me. If I say I think something’s great then they know I truly believe it.

    Twitter over the last six months has – in my opinion – become a huge spam site. If I have an issue with spam email 100% of the time it has come from twitter and google and twitter have been very good at dealing with it. However, twitter in recent weeks has become tougher on spam and I for one am delighted because the amount of spam in the streams is off putting and means I do not spend as much time there other than to talk to ‘real’ peeps.

    The whole ethos and ethic behind WANA is about connecting to our readers and like minded peeps. If I had to make a suggestion it would be to help new peeps on social networks connect to their readers rather than chatting amongst other writers. That’s the holy grail. And of course we need to have something to ‘give’ the reader, be it a book or a free read or whatever.

    Of course I’m a writer therefore writing has to come first as has my interaction with my readers. My stats are almost nothing from twitter reader wise but I have hundreds of followers who are other writers. Lovely though they are, these are not the peeps who are going to buy my book. Facebook has been good for connecting with readers. But for me personally the big mahoona has been pinterest. I don’t know if this is because of my genre, romance, or if pinterest appeals to me as a person. I do not do any me, me, me marketing on there, it’s all about what interests and inspires my creativity and that seems to attract like minded peeps. But the response to ideas, discussions, storyboards etc has been amazing. Again, I want to stress that I write romance and the demographic for the site is 87% women between the age of 18-55 and there are now 17.5 million of them. And remember the site has still not gone live.

    Things are evolving at an exponential rate in social media and are changing so fast it’s almost impossible to keep up with it. The twitter gremlins (bots) are constantly germinating and I for one find it too time consuming to interact on there to flush out ‘real’ peeps and I’m not alone. Twitter needs to grow some serious ‘stones’ to get to grips with them. For me as a writer and a person there is no way I would use a site that sends out automated messages. Why? The whole point of a social networking site is to be sociable, automated messages are the complete antithesis of this ideal. If you put nothing into it you’ll get nothing out of it and that’s what I see happening on twitter.

    This is the first ‘negative’ post I’ve ever written and it doesn’t sit well on my shoulders. Finding the positive in a situation is something I always strive to do. I hope twitter changes and gets a grip. But in the meanwhile this post, Kristen, is awesome.

    1. This is really interesting. Maybe I should try pinterest. I had avoided it, but I think my audience is going to mainly be women in the 30-70 age range and many of them seem to absolutely love it!

      1. Pinterest is fine, but there are few social media sites that can build a following like Twitter. If you want to break out of talking to writers, just join # groups comprised of your demographic. Start talking about #Glee or #Oprah or #Ellen or #knitting. There are tens of millions of people on Twitter. I think at least a handful are the romance demographic ;). Pinterest seems harder to build communities and have the same interaction.

    2. Start talking to people other than writers. That isn’t Twitter’s fault. You can explore other hash tags that will connect you to your demographic. Just ask what they are doing when they aren’t reading books. They are probably #Moms or #parenting or watching #GCCB. Use a little creativity and you might be surprised what you find :D. Few platforms have the power of Twitter. Twitter very quickly connects the globe.

    • malindalou on April 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm
    • Reply

    I am loving the Star Trek references. They really connect with this fan. And I hear you on hash tags being like Tribbles! I always keep mine under 4 to avoid that problem.

  23. thank you so much for this information. i’m just learning all of this and it can be quite overwhelming, and easy to get lost in the cyber world.

  24. I feel like the guy (sorry, not much of a Star Trek groupie, so I don’t know who it is) drowning in the furry balls when I get on Tweetdeck or Twitter. It’s just a ton of links and no real conversation as far as I can tell, yet. I start looking at links, which may be very interesting, and then too much time has passed and I yelp and log out. Oh, well, my old-fashioned brain will eventually catch up with the buzz, I suppose, but I’m not there yet!

  25. Thanks for all the useful information Kristen. Boy is there a lot to learn on the technical side!

    I tagged you on my blog this week for a question game. If you get a chance, take a look at http://couldhavebeenhollywood.com/blog/ and pass it on. Thanks!

  26. This is great info. I go thru phases with twitter. At times I’m tweeting throughout the day and then I’ll go a couple days with no tweets. Someone mentioned the 1/3 rule and I like that idea. Bravo on very useful posting.

  27. I use Triberr for the Life List Club but haven’t been doing the automated hashtags – mostly cause I haven’t figured it out. HOWEVER, I’m super glad I don’t do that because I don’t want to bog down a whole column with that repetitive tweet business. It’s like you pointed out, it ends up doing the opposite of what we want to do. I tend to only use hashtags to the blogs I’ve gone around and read, so even if it’s in my Triberr, I’ll have a second tweet with hashtags after I’ve gone to read it. That’s probably another extreme… I’m still trying to figure out how social media will work into my schedule. I never feel I’m doing enough, so what I end up doing is really spurty days where I’m off of the “day job” and get to catch up. I love your suggestions for breaking up your day with intervals of social media (per your interview with Leanne Shirtliffe), but I can’t do that the 10 hours I’m at work, so I guess I still feel behind. Any suggestions? Am I overthinking it all and just stressing? LOL.

    1. Just tweet when you can. We don’t have to tweet with EVERYBODY. Twitter is global, so there will always be people on Twitter. What you might find is you get an international following faster because the Aussies are on when you are on. Insomnia is how I started my UK following. I was tweeting at 3 and 4 in the morning when people from Europe were tweeting.

      1. LOL That explains the European views to my blog I see in my stats weekly. Ha! Thanks for the “calm down” Kristen!

  28. I don’t do automation for exactly this reason – I’m too distractible and unfocused and people would end up Unfollowing me and my blog, which would be a great tragedy (for me, anyway). I’ve started using TweetDeck, though, so thanks for the info on that.

  29. Wow great tips!

  30. Hello Kristen,
    When I retweet I don’t seem to be able to delete the other person’s # and add my own. What am I doing wrong?

    1. It’s possible to ‘Quote’ on some devices, this leaves the @address which it is courteous to leave in as crediting your source, but lets you add / change hash tags. Note the importance of acknowledging your source using @address, the internet is surprisingly small and expressing gratitude is appreciated! Also I’ve been told to try putting some hash tags in your personal description as it will help people find you (would be interested to know if this really works).

      1. Thank you Jane. I will look for “quote”.

      2. All they have to do is create a search column for your name. That doesn’t require a hash tag. And yes, I think the servant’s heart is especially important. Gratitude, generosity, kindness, joy, enthusiasm will always benefit our author platform.

    • Nichole Hall on April 21, 2012 at 11:16 am
    • Reply

    Great post! I’m fairly new to twitter (I know, I know, just now getting with the times) and found your post informative and most helpful in navigating the lands of twitter and hash tags. Thanks so much for your insight.

  31. I appreciate so much your advice and suggestions. Just got on Twitter and hashtags were a mystery to me until your post. One other question I wanted to ask is—do you still recommend authors to join MySpace? I keep getting negative responses to this question. Everyone says it is just for musicians now.

  32. Trouble with Tribbles is probably my favorite ST episode. Your pics brightened my day & your post helps clear up my confusion about when to use & retweet hashtags! Keep up the great work, Kristen.

    1. Oh – & do you have any recommendations for those of writing in multiple genres with different names? 2 twitter names? When I publish using the other name, should I tweet under that too?

      1. One name. Brand one name. Pen names are old paradigm. This post explains why pen names are a Digital Age Nightmare.

  33. Hi Kristen,

    I do not currently use Twitter, but can see after reading your post that it seems to be a very effective tool to help support a author’s platform. Thanks you for your valuable information regarding hash tags.

    Donna L Martin

  34. What a great analogy! Love it!

  35. very interesting!1love the tribble comparison!

  36. I think my favorite button on Triberr may be the Edit one where I can add or change a hashtag or put in my own two cents for why people should read a post. I LOVE when my tribe mates do the same with my links. It takes only a few seconds, but it personalizes the message while also broadening the appeal. Great reminders, Kristen. Thanks!

    • Karen McFarland on April 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm
    • Reply

    I can’t thank you enough for writing this post Kristen! I’ve been waiting for you to weigh in on this subject, although I think you and I had a brief conversation on Facebook about this. One of my favorite things to do on Twitter is Retweeting. I like to scroll down some of the columns and catch the early bird tweets and RT them later on in the day for those who may not have gotten a chance to see them. Now that I’ve been on Twitter for about six months, I’ve learned about other hastags and communities in which to send a message off to. That said, I am still searching for new groups. New people who are not neccessarily writers. People who might be interested in what I write. That’s the hardest part for me. And then of course I’ve been really sick lately and feel awful about not having the strength to support and write period. I miss everyone! Is there a website that compiles the many different hashtags so that we can broaden out to others and spread our WANA love? Just thought I’d ask. Or is that one of the things that you’re working on? Hmm? Thanks Kristen!

  37. Thank you for this post! I hadn’t really thought much about the dangers of automation. There have been one or two instances where I’ve been on Twitter just following the general stream and suddenly a tweet from ME pops up, and for a second I’m like, “Woah, hey, what?!” And then, “Oh yeah, I approved that an hour ago…” And then I want to laugh at myself!

  38. What happens if I want to specifiy historical fiction with the hash tag #my WANA? Do I type it as #historical fiction #myWANA? I went to #my WANA and tried searching the term but came up with nothing? I blog historical fiction novel reviews.

    1. Well, #MyWANA is a Twitter community of writers with a mission of service above self. If you type your message with a #MyWANA at the end, your tweet will come up in our column. Then you will notice the #MyWANA in your tweet is underlined. Click that and it will generate a special column for #MyWANA. You can do the same with #history #historical. I don’t know if there are communities around these hash tags, but you can check. Just delete the column if it isn’t useful.

  39. Great post, thank you! Am relatively new to twittering and keen on keeping things simple. Sticking to live tweets for now even though this will no doubt mean fluctuation in the frequency at which these go out and there may be lulls. I’ve learnt a lot more about hashtags thanks to your blog and about the possiblities and pitfalls of automation and am keeping a link in my “logbook” so that I can reference back to it in future. I like Twitter a lot, short is good and the enforced brevity of communications is right down my alley. 😉

  40. Definitely some good advice. Without realizing it our Triberr roll out could look very spammy. So the automation warning is great. However, I’m sitting here slightly questioning the creation of a Tribble. Not that I don’t see how it could happen. I understand the concept, but I’m not sure if using a hash tag in a blog title would always have that effect. Other variables might make it slighly more okay.

    I’m thinking of two things: using a very popular hash tag with a variety of triberrmates. To illustrate: I use the hash tag #Follow in one of our regular features (once a week if I’m on top of it). Very rarely (if ever) do I get a whole mess of triberrmates to tweet it out within a short time frame. On the contrary, it takes days to roll out. Plus, everyone else and their dog is using the same hash tag, so in a panel or in a Twitter search, my blog post will only come up once in a while as intended.

    I do see the problem if you use a lesser known hash tag within a smaller community. In any case, it’s best to be careful no matter what you use.

  41. (Hope this isn’t a duplicate. I was having trouble logging into my wordpress.com account)

    Definitely some good advice. Without realizing it our Triberr roll out could look very spammy. So the automation warning is great. However, I’m sitting here slightly questioning the creation of a Tribble. Not that I don’t see how it could happen. I understand the concept, but I’m not sure if using a hash tag in a blog title would always have that effect. Other variables might make it slighly more okay.

    I’m thinking of two things: using a very popular hash tag with a variety of triberrmates. To illustrate: I use the hash tag #Follow in one of our regular features (once a week if I’m on top of it). Very rarely (if ever) do I get a whole mess of triberrmates to tweet it out within a short time frame. On the contrary, it takes days to roll out. Plus, everyone else and their dog is using the same hash tag, so in a panel or in a Twitter search, my blog post will only come up once in a while as intended.

    I do see the problem if you use a lesser known hash tag within a smaller community. In any case, it’s best to be careful no matter what you use.

  42. Kristen, there IS no substitute for authentic attendance to the actual content of the tweets, the blogs, the Facebook postings, etc. I despise these automation tools because I KNOW I would fall into some very bad habits if I ever fell into using them even a little bit.

    • asraidevin on May 5, 2012 at 11:57 pm
    • Reply

    I schedule my link sharing to go out throughout the day, so I’m not beating people over the head with the awesomeness that is my RSS feed. And then when I’m on break throughout the day I open my tweetdeck and check out what’s going on and chat with whoever I see.

    Hahah, my twitter tags are automated in my own head. I just typed the wrong one on a Tweet. *sigh* That’s what happens when you use Twitter when you should be sleeping or writing. Karma.

  43. Thanks for this post. It taught me a lot.

  1. […] Yesterday Kristen Lamb posted about hashtags and automation with twitter. I’ve actually been a bit worried about my twitter stream lately, ever since I joined tribes on Triberr. I love Triberr! Not only do I have quick access to many blogs I love, but I get to easily share them with my followers too. BUT, now if you look at my twitter stream on any given day, chances are you’ll see a slew of Triberr tweets before you’ll find one of my live tweets. Urgh. Okay, thank you Kristen for this timely post: Hash Tags—The Trouble with Twitter Tribbles […]

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  5. […] These tools promise us this ease of automation, but I feel that people use them to be lazy (Hashtags & The Trouble with Twitter Tribbles). In fact, the link spam has gotten SO BAD on #MyWANA that people no longer go there to hang out, […]

  6. […] to be put off. Bestselling author and social media guru Kristen Lamb discusses the need for actual human interaction on Twitter at length on her blog.Effective use of TwitterThere is no point just yelling and telling. There is […]

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