Hashtag vomit, like binge drinking until you black out and wake up in a pool of your own yuck, is a rookie mistake many authors make.

Shhhh… don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been guilty myself. [subliminal messaging] Learn from my mistake.

And just like being able to learn moTwitter hashtag vomitderation with alcohol, hashtag vomit is a completely avoidable pitfall.

But what is hashtag vomit, you might ask? Why, it’s a term that I coined to describe the use of excessive amounts of hashtags (that’s pound signs, or number sings to you older folk – that’s right, Kat’s got your back, wink, wink) on a Twitter post (aka a Tweet).

Think about it – there are only 140 characters allowable in a single Tweet. This includes all of your spaces and punctuation. There are even less when you add a link, or an image/video, and still less when you add both.

The words that come to mind when I try to come to grips with this are: limiting, confining, suffocating and claustrophobic. Sometimes restraints are quite fun, just not these kind of restraints.

I am a writer. I love words… Please don’t try to take them away from me.

When you have so few characters to get your message across, you must be flawlessly succinct,  faultlessly mercenary when it comes to cutting out punctuation, and roguishly creative with your spelling. Even with the perfect message, it’s still way too easy to get lost and drown in the swiftly moving sea of tweets.

The hashtag is your life raft. It is a cry for help and a call to arms. Please #HearMyTweet!

Of course you could just automate your tweet, repeating the same one over and over again, every 15 minutes, in the hopes that no matter when your audience is on, they will see your message on their feed and take heed. This is a supremely annoying trick. And, for your audience, it must be much like picking up the phone to an endless loop of prerecorded message. One might even call it SPAM – egads!

hashtag vomit is twitter spam: no spam! There are so many wonderful hashtags for us to choose from when we want to have others help us boost the reach of our message:

  • #IARTG – Indie Authors ReTweet Group
  • #ASMSG – Author’s Social Media Support Group
  • #EARTG – Erotica Author’s ReTweet Group
  • #LPRTG – Literary Porn ReTweet Group
  • #SSRTG – Smart Smut ReTweet Group
  • #BYNR – Be Your Next Read
  • #BookBoost – (self explanatory)

… and so many more. As author’s, it’s so easy to get caught up in that ‘kid in a candy store’ mentality and try to slap as many hashtags onto the end of your tweet as you can, and try to reach more people and get more retweets, and more little hearts and more, more, MORE!

This is a mistake.

This is #HashtagVomit

I’m not going to bother citing the studies that say that posts with only 2-3 hashtags (max) tend to be looked upon more favorably by your audience (as do posts with images and/or links), but they are out there, and they are easy to find. The point that I am trying to make is that less is more.

And when you have such a tiny amount of real estate to play with, how can you willingly (willfully) give it away like that?

Take the time to craft your message and direct it with precision, by adding a link, and/or and image that improve your message, then send it off with a hashtag or two that do the same – not all of them!

Don’t throw-up hashtag vomit chunks because you couldn’t be bothered to do your homework on what the most effective things to say to your audience might be, to gain their attention and action. Sure, you’ll spray a whole crowd of people with your nasty mess, but I don’t think any of them will be clamoring to thank you for it, or in this case, to grab a copy of your most recent book.

Just take it down a notch, eh buddy?

When you stop spamming people with your posts, and you give proper respect to the groups that have set up tags to help you (by selecting tags with intent, rather than lumping them all together like a greedy grubber and jamming people’s feeds), you might be surprised by how much more amenable people will become to listening to what you have to say… instead of just tuning you out.


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Shelby Kent-Stewart
4 years ago

Succinct and brilliant as always, Kat. The constant spamming is off-putting at best, the hashtag overload irritating in the extreme. There have been so many good articles about this that I’m shocked so few are paying attention. Thanks for this. Keep preaching, sista!

Naya Free
4 years ago

Kat, you make an excellent point that hashtags need to be used appropriately. I’ve been guilty of overusing them for sure. I will have to watch what #hashtags I use from now on, I think… Thanks for a great post. Best 🙂

R.B.
4 years ago

Great post, Kat. Informative but oh-so-fun to read! Honestly, I’m slowly wondering if Twitter is just becoming an overload of just that–spammy vomit–in general. I know i am much more likely to pay attention if something cool or attractive crosses my feed or if a tagline or 140 characters can actually SAY something worth reading. I read somewhere that anymore than 3 hashtags is actually counterproductive.Wait! I think I read that from you. 🙂 No. I’ve read it in other places too. You’re dead on here.

Mz Patchouli
4 years ago

A thousand thank yous. Its so easy for a rookie to get caught up in the twitter euphoria. I started hashtag vomiting recently, knowing I was unclear on the concept. Also, knowing my message was basically reduced to the length of a captcha code, for doing it. Thank you for this and your constant support. I appreciate you.

Mystkk Knight
Mystkk Knight
4 years ago

Well put Kat. I have been guilty of hashtag vomit from time to time, not truly understanding what purpose each tag was directed to. Well, no more. You’ve tuned me up and I’ll dial it back. Informative blog. Helpful and insightful. Thank you!

nobody
nobody
4 years ago

Because of twitter restrictions on duplicate messages, many folks use hashtags to make messages unique within the rolling 24-hour period. This is one of the unintended consequences of a dumb twitter policy. As long as the hashtags are relevant, it’s probably harmless. When I read tweets, I generally don’t even see the hashtags, my eyes bounce over them just like ignoring banner ads. And I totally ignore tweets with 4 or more hashtags.

Devi Ansevi
4 years ago

#KatIsAlwaysRight

Devi Ansevi
4 years ago

#KatIsAlwaysRight (but your capcha code thing sucks, it puts lines across the letters so I can’t tell what they are. Wahh)