HashtagsNow that Facebook has announced it will roll out hashtag usage, we will certainly see tons of posts about both hashtags in general and Facebook-specific hashtags in particular. So before that trend becomes seriously annoying, I’d like to offer a simple tip on how to deal with one troublesome issue that stems from the nature of how hashtags are created and how they’re used

One great thing about hashtags: Anyone can create one.

A hashtag is a keyword preceded by a pound sign – for example: #audiobooks. When used at a site (like Twitter or Google+, and soon Facebook) that recognizes hashtags, it becomes an active link. When you click on the link, the site compiles a stream of all of the posts that used that hashtag. Basically, it performs a search for that term and displays the results.

You can also perform the search directly, without using a link, and get the same results.

This is a great tool for finding and filtering for posts that are all about the same subject, event, celebrity, fad, community, etc.

While there aren’t official hashtags, the are ones that have become more or less “official” through repeated and consistent use over a period of time. In the writing community #amwriting is a good example. It was created by Johanna Harness in 2009 as “a virtual water cooler for writers, a place where you can take a break and talk to your colleagues about your current writing projects (and theirs) before getting back to work.” It caught on and through consistent use over several years is now well-established.

One problematic thing about hashtags: Anyone can create one.

Short term promotions like “June Is Audiobook Month” don’t have the luxury of an extended period of time over which to establish an accepted hashtag.

Unless someone or some organization establishes a hashtag in advance, communicates it widely in advance, and gets most posters to agree to use it, there won’t be a single hashtag that encompasses all of the relevant posts. Individuals, or groups of individuals, will use the hashtag they like best. You end up with a bunch of disconnected “communities” talking about the same thing.

This year’s June Is Audiobook Month is a good example. It’s great fun. This annual “event” encourages people throughout the industry – as well as people who simply love listening to audiobooks – to post about their passion wherever they’re active online. Dovetailing with the Audies Awards, JIAM takes hold of the excitement generated by the upscale and media-friendly awards ceremony and translates it into a more grass roots campaign to expose audiobooks to masses of people.

By using a June Is Audiobook Month hashtag, posters know that others who are aware of the hashtag will be able to find their posts and possibly retweet or repost to their followers, increasing the exposure exponentially.

Unfortunately, no one established a single hashtag in advance for this year’s June Is Audiobook Month. Right now there are five in use that I know of: #JIAM, #JIAM13, #JIAM2013, #ListenLit, and #GPShorts.

The first three are logical guesses based on the promotion’s name. #ListenLit was suggest by the Audio Publishers Association but was communicated only privately to association members. #GPShorts is actually the hashtag for a separate promotion, but one that’s closely tied to June Is Audiobook Month.

So if you want to follow all of the June Is Audiobook Month tweets, or posts elsewhere, you have to remember and pay attention to five different hashtags. For most people, that just not going to happen. So many miss out on a potentially large number of posts, depending on what hashtags they don’t pay attention to.

Fortunately there’s a fairly simple way around this.

To find all of the June Is Audiobook Month tweets just combine all of the hashtags, separated by OR, into a single Twitter search. (I’ll focus on Twitter here, but this works on other sites as well.)

This is Boolean search, which really is a lot less scary than it sounds. At a basic level, all you need to understand is what the words “AND” and “OR” mean in this context:

  • OR means: “I want documents (tweets, posts) that contain at least one of the words. I don’t care which one, and I don’t care if there are more than one.”
  • AND means: “I want only documents that contain all of the words.” If you don’t separate the search terms with either AND or OR, the search assumes AND.

For example, to search for all of the tweets using any of the June Is Audiobook Month hashtags, enter the following in Twitter search:

#jiam OR #jiam13 OR #jiam2013 OR #ListenLit OR #GPShorts

The search will return tweets that include at least one – but as many as all – of the hashtags listed. (Note: Hashtags are not case-sensitive.)

And if you want also to capture those June Is Audiobook Month tweets that don’t use any hashtag, in addition to the ones that do, simple add the phrases “audiobook month” and “audio book month” to your search:

#jiam OR #jiam13 OR #jiam2013 OR #ListenLit OR #GPShorts OR “audiobook month” OR “audio book month”

(Note: The quotes are necessary.)

Once you’ve performed the search the first time, you can save it. All you have to do after that is click on the saved search. If you use a management tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you can save the search there and have an on-going stream of June Is Audiobook Month tweets.

[Image © iQoncept - Fotolia.com]

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MP3 street crossing signFor June Is Audiobook Month here’s another by-no-means-inclusive collection of articles and blog posts about audiobooks, culled from Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and my news feed. I hope you find them interesting, informative and/or fun.

Enjoy!

When Words Sing – “If you spend a lot of time with audiobooks, you start paying close attention to the people who read them, and probably develop a stable of favorites. Listeners know that the best narrators can make a good book take wing and a merely decent book grow more engaging. They can carry us through the dry parts of nonfiction, and might get us to try something we otherwise might not have.”

Non-Speaking Autistic Woman Writes Book – Author Barb Rentenbach on working with her book’s narrator, Ariane Zurcher: “she got out and selflessly let me drive her luxury voice for a full week to transport my 10 years of pecked letters to let my 40 years of not talking be heard.”

The Voices in My Headphones: Listening to Audiobooks on the Go – “I’m an audiobook junkie. I can’t hide it. It’s a sickness. An obsession. And I love it. However, the general public does not always share my affection for aural literacy.”

David Sedaris has a pleasingly strange voice – “The brilliant essayist already writes for the listener, which makes his new audiobook yet another triumph”

The First LPs Weren’t for Music – They Were Audiobooks for the Blind – “In the 1930s, records weren’t played on the radio or at concerts. They didn’t flood people’s homes with music. The first long-playing records, now commonly known as LPs, weren’t for music at all: they were audiobooks designed for the blind.”

An Audible Feast – The Ernest Hemingway Audiobook Library – “Freed from the page, I could close my eyes and lie on some mental living-room rug and dream my way in all over again.”

“Listening to Books is Cheating” and 7 More Myths About Audiobooks – “So here’s my heartfelt attempt to dispel some widely believed myths about audiobooks and hopefully coax the audio-curious among you to explore how amazing and wonderful and revelatory they can be.”

Care For The Storyteller-Self: Exercising Storytelling Muscles by Redefining the Purpose of Book Preparation – “In order to act like storytellers, I’d argue that narrators must become storytellers, not only while recording, but before, while prepping their book. Consistently and correctly narrating like a storyteller means: Prep the book like one, so that once the recording begins, narrators have become their storyteller selves.”

[Image credit: Michael Cooper]

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The Narrators of the 2013 Audies Competition Winners

June 2, 2013

What better way to kick off the June Is Audiobook Month celebration than by being able to say Congratulations and Thank You to the narrators who made the 2013 Audies® Award-winning audiobook titles what they are. The 18th Annual Audies Gala and Awards Presentation was held on Thursday, May 30, 2013, at the New York [...]

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Tracking Audiobooks – Thoughts on Listening, Recording, Producing and Reviewing

March 28, 2013

This is a by-no-means-inclusive collection of articles and blog posts about audiobooks, culled from Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and my news feed. I hope you find them interesting, informative and/or fun. Enjoy! How is an audiobook made? – A video interview with Bob Deyan, “an audiobook producer who has won numerous awards during a career of [...]

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Congratulations to the Narrators of the 2013 Audies Competition Finalists

March 7, 2013

First, I’d like to congratulate the publishers and authors whose audiobooks were named as finalists in the 2013 Audies® Competition. Click here for the official Audio Publishers Association (APA) press release, or visit TheAudies.com for a list of nominees and further details, including Audiofile Magazine reviews. But the real reason for this post is to [...]

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Tracking Audiobooks – Convert Confessions, the Role and Importance of Narrators, and more

March 7, 2013

This is a by-no-means-inclusive (or regularly-scheduled) collection of articles and blog posts about audiobooks, culled from Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and my news feed. I hope you find them interesting, informative and/or fun. Enjoy! Hearing Voices – “I’ve only had my tablet a few weeks, and I’m already so hooked I must have an audiobook at [...]

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