Updated Wednesday, July 30, 2014 as of 3:12 PM ET
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Social Media for Advisors: 3 Best #Hashtag Practices
Thursday, August 8, 2013
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Move over Twitter, hashtags aren't just for tweets anymore. Hashtags, the pound symbols that help catalog content on Twitter, have made their way onto platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Vine  and Instagram. But why? What’s the point of using hashtags and do they even matter?

Hashtags are an effective way to organize and discover interesting content. Whether it’s an industry topic, event or television show, there are hashtags out there for everything, making it easy for social media users to find and follow the content most important to them.

For example, like many other social media enthusiasts, I was excitedly following the news surrounding the arrival of the royal baby. While logged into Twitter, I was able to sort through all of the content in my newsfeed by following the hashtag #RoyalBaby. By focusing my search, I was able to rise above the noise and find the articles and pictures that mattered most to me at that moment in time.

Hashtags can be just as powerful when promoting content for your business. Whether you’re sharing a new blog post or attending a conference, incorporating a hashtag increases the odds of your message being found by the right audience – those who find what you have to say relevant and engaging.

However, when using hashtags for business and thought leadership purposes, there are three best practices to keep in mind.

#AVOID #USING #TOO #MANY #HASHTAGS

Don’t feel pressured to overuse the hashtag. No one wants to read a post primarily composed of hashtags. It’s overwhelming for the reader and your message will become lost. Remember, it’s all about quality, not quantity. As a best practice, try to centralize your message around one hashtag. This will demonstrate to your audience that you know what you’re doing and ensure that your message makes its way to the right readers.

MAKE IT RELEVANT

People create hashtags for everything (and I do mean everything). When using a hashtag, keep it short and simple. Using extremely long hashtags like #lifeislikeaboxofchocolates might not be the best way to make sure your posts get a bunch of clicks. Just because it’s trending on social media, doesn’t mean you should use it!

Remember, conversations start around hashtags. Concise hashtags (i.e. #marketing#finserv and #socialmedia) are easy to follow and invite others to join the conversation. For example, at the 25th anniversary of the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago, attendees were sharing tweets using the hashtag #MIC25. Adding only the one hashtag kept the message simple and allowed clients, industry experts and peers to follow the online discussions. In fact, some of the best conversations included those who were unable to make it to Chicago, but still wanted to participate in the conference conversation.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

When looking for a strong hashtag to use, remember to “listen” on social media. Look to those you follow online – friends, colleagues, experts and thought leaders – and discover what hashtags are prominently used in their content. Also, take the time to click on the actual hashtag hyperlink to see the other content that falls within that hashtag category. Is it content you find relevant? Do you notice posts similar to what your target audience is looking for? If that’s the case, that hashtag might be right for you. Give it a try and keep track of your clicks rates once you begin using a new hashtag.

Caitlin Zucal is a marketing coordinator for Reged.

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