Let’s get this out of the way first: It’s pronounced meme, like theme. Here, listen to this: http://youtu.be/3dErjFPTarc. (It’s Greek—go argue with them.)
Meme can mean a lot of things, like a viral pic (remember “ridiculously photogenic guy“?), video (the infamous RickRoll), a phrase (Eastwooding, anyone?), or as shorthand. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became a humorous meme this year.
Memes are usually a theme of some sort that people riff on, or discuss and share—a lot. A meme is when you hear about something going “viral.” It is usually, but not always, accompanied by a hashtag (#) on social media.
Our focus today is on how we as writers can best use established Twitter memes for connection, engagement, and, yes, the dreaded P-word: promotion. Using these hashtags in your tweets make them (ergo, you) more searchable and visible.
Let’s deconstruct (in no particular order, because I’m tired):
1. #WriterWednesday aka #WW: This is self-explanatory: writers recommending other writers to follow. You typically make lists of writers with their handles (or Twitter name, i.e., I’m @RachelintheOC) so they can see that you’ve mentioned them and follow other people you recommend.
Tip: Fit your tweet into 120 characters or fewer, so others can RT you.
Tip: As opposed to doing a day full of lists—because let’s be honest, who has time?—I prefer to do a few tweets, scattered throughout the day, that include writers (authors or bloggers) whom I have recently followed, whom I am reading, or who have impressed me in some way. To me, this carries much more weight. I’ll even single out someone who’s really knocked my socks off. It’s a great karma builder, too.
2. #FollowFriday aka #FF: Most people, when they start Twitter, get all excited to be mentioned in people’s #FFs and want to return the favor—as you should. My caution here is not to create a stream that’s full of only that. As a fellow tweep, I’d rather know whom you are most impressed with. So the same guidelines apply as in #WriterWednesday.
Tip: Mix in a few #FridayReads tweets on Fridays. What book have you read recently? Link to that person’s Amazon page or website so others can also find out more about the book. Don’t forget their handle. (If you don’t know it, use the Search function or Google it.)
3. #MentionMonday aka #MM: There’s lots of confusion about this particular meme. It’s a blog meme. This means you share your latest blog post (shorten the link, please) and RT others who are doing the same. Confusion sometimes arises, because many tweeps use #MentionMonday like #WW or #FF, and it’s absolutely not the same thing.
Tip: Search on #MentionMonday (or create a stream on Hootsuite or Tweetdeck) and only RT those who are using this meme correctly—to share blog posts. It’s not to share your Amazon or book links, either. It’s a blog meme, people! OK, I feel better now.
Tip: Almost forgot this one: If you want to see how many people click on your #MentionMonday tweets, use bit.ly to shorten the link and track clicks. Easy, free.
Tip: Post your blog on Sunday (studies show you get more comments on the weekend), but promote the heck out of it on Monday with this hashtag meme.
4. #TagItTuesday: This is a great way to connect with authors and readers. This is more about helping and supporting other authors as opposed to having them only tag your work. Using the hashtag, provide a tweep’s handle, sell link, Facebook page, or website, wherever you think people will be most interested. I generally send people to an author’s Amazon link, but if you’re unpublished, ask people to “like” your Facebook page instead.
Tip: Because you’re doing this only once a week, “liking” doesn’t become spammy or chore-like.
5. #TellMeTuesday: Started by yours truly, this hashtag is used to share information or one-sentence stories with others that you wouldn’t normally reveal, whether it’s from childhood, college, sexual, funny—whatever. Use that hashtag, and those who see it and participate will RT you. Sharing secrets humanizes us.
Tip: Put hashtags at the end of your tweets; many people avoid reading hashtags at the beginning, thinking it’s just spam.
If you’re still confounded by hashtags and memes, check out hashtags.org for specific trending tags. You can also visit QuickMeme.com or KnowYourMeme.com to input a specific tag and even attach it to a photo. Other sites, such as LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook (to an extent), know and understand hashtags.
Rachel Thompson is a published author and social media consultant. A version of this article first appeared on BadRedHeadMedia.com.