What is a hashtag - and why does it matter?

By Traci Gentilozzi

Remember the good ole’ days when a hashtag (#) was just a pound symbol? Well, those days flew the coop when Twitter came onto the scene. Now the hashtag is an Internet phenomenon. No matter what social media site you are using, the hashtag is there.

The hashtag is nothing more than a key word or phrase with a # in front of it that is inserted into a social media post.

Believe it or not, a hashtag can be a powerful legal marketing tool. It can increase your law firm’s social media presence and help engage your audience. In fact, one little hashtag can raise your law firm’s brand awareness and attract new clients.

How much does this hashtag helper cost? Absolutely nothing … which is why you should be using it every day.

The Purpose Of A Hashtag

A hashtag helps your social media post stand out from thousands of others. When a hashtag is inserted, the social media platform can index the post so it can be found by everyone, including people that are not your “followers” or “friends.”

In a nutshell, hashtags expand your reach, which is the main reason why they should be included in social media messaging. When you insert one or more hashtags in a post, your content is now accessible to everyone else who is interested in that topic and who may search for that hashtag.

However, while using a hashtag significantly broadens the reach of your posts, be careful not to use too many generic, mundane hashtags. Be as specific as possible with your hashtags – you’ll have a better chance of being seen.

Different Types Of Hashtags

There are three types of hashtags: 1) content hashtags, 2) trending hashtags and 3) brand-specific hashtags.

Content hashtags are generic and relate to a particular product or service. Some content hashtags for law firms are #legalservices  #attorney  #lawyer and  #lawfirm.

Trending hashtags are what is “trending” on Twitter on a given day. How do you know what’s trending? Open your Twitter account and check the left side of the page underneath “Trending” – it’s all right there.

Before using a trending hashtag, be sure your post will add value to the conversation. If it doesn’t, then it will probably be overlooked among the millions of other posts that are using that same trending hashtag. Trending hashtags include holidays or sporting events happening on a particular day, such as #MothersDay  #BelmontStakes  #ChristmasDay  #SuperBowl and #NBAFinals.

Brand-specific hashtags are ones that you create – so be sure to make them stand out. These hashtags are sort of like “mottos” and are most helpful when you don’t want a post to get buried among thousands of others. Brand-specific hashtags make sense for promotions, special events, community outreach programs and other types of legal marketing campaigns. For example, the State Bar of Michigan recently used #michbarleaders in its Upper Michigan Legal Institute social media posts. Another good idea would be to use #ICBAShrimpDinner for the Ingham County Bar Association’s annual seafood feast.

Helpful Hashtag Tips

While hashtags are easily created – just insert # before the words/phrase – they need to be chosen carefully and with a strategy in mind. Here are some hashtag tips.

1. Keep hashtags short and sweet. Do not use too many words in a hashtag because it will be difficult to read. Lengthy hashtags turn people away from a post.

2. Do not overuse hashtags. #Would #you #want #to #read #this? Probably not. The general rule is to include a hashtag with significant words – not all of them.

3. Be purposeful in your hashtag use. This really applies to content hashtags because they are likely being used by numerous other law firms and businesses. If you want to get your post noticed, a good idea is to mix a highly used content hashtag with a less used, brand-specific hashtag or a trending hashtag. Also, it helps to perform some research to find good hashtags – hashtagifyme.com is a great resource.

4. How many hashtags and where? Here’s what is recommended by the experts.

• Twitter – Two hashtags per post is recommended. Hashtags can be placed at the end of the Tweet or in the content.

• Facebook, LinkedIn & Google+ – Brand-specific hashtags are the way to go on these social media platforms. Hashtags can be placed at the end of a post or in the content.

• Instagram – The more hashtags the better on Instagram, although it’s suggested that you not use more than 10. Hashtags should be placed at the end of the photo caption and separated by dots or asterisks.

• Pinterest – It’s recommended that you include no more than 20 hashtags per post. As for placement, note that hashtags only work within the Pin’s description.


Attorney Traci R. Gentilozzi owns 360 Legal Solutions, PLLC, a company that focuses on legal content development and promotion for sole practitioners and small firms. She is also the Editor of BRIEFS, the monthly publication of the Ingham County Bar Association. This article is reprinted with permission from BRIEFS.