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Hashtag #Rules for Your Firm: 5 Basics to Know

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By Betty Wang, JD on June 17, 2013 12:55 PM

With Facebook jumping onboard the hashtag fun alongside Twitter, hashtags are now being used on social media more than ever. This means that if your law firm has an account on Twitter or Facebook (ideally, you should be on both and have a website), this will possibly affect the way your content is viewed and used by your clients as well as other Interner viewers and passerbys.

Nowadays, it's not just another regrettable baby name, or a way for people to crack un-funny personal jokes. Hashtags, (that # sign before certain words in online content) are clickable and a very efficient way for many social networking sites to gauge what's trending and then organize content under their respective topics. For example, if a lot of people are tweeting or posting on Facebook about the #TheElection, you can easily find your way to the whole collection of everyone else who's mentioning it as well.

Before you get too pound-sign happy, though, keep in mind that it's not as easy as it looks. Here are some basics rules about hash-tagging that you may want to know first:

1. Hashtags are an organizing tool. While many do like to use hashtags as a form of self-expression and not so much to have their viewers click on it, this shouldn’t be your firm’s goal when using hashtags. As a professional organization, your hashtags should mostly be un-ironic and meant to actually draw viewers from a conversation using the tag to your post.

2. Don’t go overboard. There is no hard and fast rule on how many hashtags to insert into your material - but, use your best judgment call. Obviously hone in on the more particular keywords that you yourself would be looking for. Don’t #get #crazy and #hashtag #everything, it is #quite #distruptive. Focus on what the crucial #topic actually is. Not only do too many hashtags clutter up your page, they are an eyesore and is incredibly unprofessional looking.

3. Avoid punctiation. Twitter and other sites actually cut off your hashtag if you add any punctuation (periods, commas, apostrophes, etc). While this may seem like a cause for concern for professionals looking to use hashtags, this just means that you should get creative. Focus on the proper phrases that don’t need punctuation that are still relevant and key.

4. Look for commonly searched or trending terms to hashtag. Hashtagging not only requires that you insert them into your own, original content, but it’s a two way street in that you may need to follow suit on certain terms that are already trending. Most sites have a section listing the trending topics of the moment — if any are relevant to your firm’s content, pop them into your posts.

5. Stay relevant and on-topic. While you should be looking at what’s trending in your field and using hashtags as a way of marketing and drawing attention to your content, it’s important to remember that there’s a fine line between fleshing out content and being completely irrelevant.

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