#HashTags: So Much More Than a Pound Sign

The work of creating and curating your best content is done and you’re ready to bring it to the digital space. Hashtags, those pound signs from old rotary phones (#), more recently seen on social media networks, are symbols that group our digital matter with other related, online content.

They organize content and also increase the visibility of your posts, as your content will be grouped with others. This improves your chances of more views. For example, as media outlets recently streamed content related to the government shutdown to various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they largely agreed to tack the hashtag #shutdown to related posts. This collective tagging effort neatly organized all related content so interested parties could find everything they wanted to see in one central location. Utilizing a #keyword search, hashtags allow users to receive a relevant search return of topic-specific posts.

Hashtags also track trending topics. When people tag, we have insight into where the people’s interests lie; that’s always important information. The hashtag also acts as an exclamation point to this social media post—a specific and striking hashtag is eye-catching and less likely to get lost amid your customers’ social media feeds.

Organizers of organized events often use Hashtags. By tracking a hashtag associated with an event, attendees can interact with one another even while seated in a breakout session.

Where and How Hashtags Should Be Used

Used first on Twitter in 2007, hashtag capabilities exist today on most mainstream channels of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. It is important to use them sparingly and strategically, thus giving you the most bang for your buck.

Hashtags Tips

1. Be relevant and don’t tag article words such as #a or #an. People aren’t searching for these words.

2. Be judicious. One or two tags per tweet or status update is sufficient. Tag keywords that people will actually search; be strategic to yield the greatest impact.

3. Tag complete ideas. Separately hashtagging terms such as #Financial #Solutions won’t categorize your content successfully. (Do you know how many “solution” bits of content exist on the Internet?) Tagging #financialsolutions greatly increases the chance of reaching your right people.

4. A hashtag may be placed anywhere within a sentence; it can be postscript (Great game! Another victory! #Dodgers) or incorporated within the text. (Great game. Another #Dodgers victory!) Don’t use punctuation or spaces within your hashtag.

5. You can also use hashtags to create listening channels. Consider a regular basis for terms such as #401k, #finances, #money, etc. (Twilert is a great resource for following a variety of hashtags on a regular basis.) There are many words that individuals use when describing their financial life. Listening in on those conversations via Twitter may provide some ideas for your client outreach, or content creation.

If you’re in search of or involved with a specific event or article, consider searching Twitter; most likely there’s a hashtag assigned. You’ll want to ensure you use the established version. Creating your own obscure hashtag in relationship to a high-profile topic probably won’t benefit your social media visibility; people won’t know to search for your customized tag.

Hashtags are also a valuable resource in supporting your brand. Creating a unique-to-you custom hashtag groups your content, but, if done creatively and mindfully, also adds an extra punch of brand voice to your online presence. Before committing, research the tag you have in mind to confirm that it hasn’t been adopted by another party; you don’t want to unintentionally form an alliance with some unusual or unfortunate group.

Hashtags Gone Wild

To fully understand the functional importance and widespread reach of hashtags, it’s important to realize that outside the scope of financial marketing and organizational applications, hashtags are also used in social media to gather memes, images, content, and engagement surrounding many other genres such as pop culture and humor (#failedchildrensbooktitles, anyone?).

Hashtags are the complement to your well-crafted social media strategy; they come in the form of a user-friendly tool that directs your digital presence toward the online streams of your key targets and they also are a simple way to create listening channels. Visibility and insight to the right audience=#win.

For an unabridged and similar iteration of this concept please click here to read a blog post I wrote on AdvisorTweets.com, titled Hash-What? Your Official Guide to Using Hash Tags.