For today’s Two for Tuesdays, I’m cheating a little and giving you a preview of a post I’ve written as part of the 12 Days of Social Media, which the Legal Marketing Association‘s Social Media Shared Interest Group is putting together. As a side note, our 12 Days posts are open to everyone (not just LMA members), and I encourage you to read through them – there are some great tips and tools in there!
I’m responsible for the 8th Day of Social Media (which is tomorrow), and tasked with sharing 8 Helpful Hashtags. I’m not going to divulge any of the eight, but I will share with you some information on why you should care about hashtags, and two ways to use them. If you’re not familiar with what hashtags are, definitely check out tomorrow’s Day 8 post for a primer.
Why Care About Hashtags?
So who cares about hashtags anyway? Sure, it seems fun and funny to make up a hashtag here and there to add to your tweets or Facebook posts (#justsaying), but why should they matter to lawyers and legal professionals? I’m here to tell you that there are PLENTY of reasons.
When I first started using Twitter, there were only a few thousand users, and it was possible to get to know everyone in your industry and read what they were talking about. Now, with millions of users out there, and even more tweets every day, there’s no easy way to keep up (although, check out my friend, Laura Toledo’s post for Day Seven with Seven Twitter Tools to Try). Not to mention all of the other social tools and platforms to keep straight. Hashtags can help with that.
Consider, for example, the specialty of law that you practice in or the lawyers you work with practice in – your day-to-day experience tells you what the important keywords are that people talk about. You can use these keywords in two ways.
Tip One: Start by Listening
Set up a search on any of the sites that you’re using for that keyword or phrase using a hashtag and see what comes up. This may take some refining, or you may discover right away that there’s a lot of conversation happening around that hashtag. In most third party Twitter applications, you can create a separate column for that hashtag, so that you can monitor it on an ongoing basis without having to do the extra work of searching each time. This will allow you to stay up-to-date on the latest news and hot topics in that area and to identify who the real influencers and amplifiers are in that space. Another way to find out what keywords are the most often used is to follow your firm’s clients (and any potential clients you’re interested in!) and keep an eye out for any hashtagged words or phrases that they use in their posts.
Tip Two: Use it Yourself
The next step is using the hashtag yourself, so that you can participate in the conversation and get found by the people who should know you. Let’s say you’ve written a blog post that you think would be of interest – use your 140 characters to explain why people will find the post relevant, and add the hashtag so that it can be seen by anyone searching or monitoring that topic.
But I’ll add a note here to stress the importance of using tip one (listening) BEFORE tip two: The reason for this is that something that may make complete sense to you, and be entirely benign in your industry, may be used for another purpose entirely, and can cause a great deal of embarrassment for you if you use it unwittingly. So hashtagging, like all other social media posting, should be undertaken with care!
But wait, there’s more!
There are also industry conferences for all of us to attend. These days, conference organizers don’t just have their own Twitter and other social media accounts – they also use hashtags for the event. When you register for a conference, take a look at the website to see what the conference hashtag might be, and then monitor that to see what people are talking about, get the inside scoop from organizers of the event, and start networking with people before you even get there – these are all excellent ways to leverage your attendance at any event.
Those are two tips for using hashtags, but there’s much more to this post than you’ll find here, so be sure to tune into the Legal Marketing Association tomorrow for my full Day Eight post! (And add your hashtagging tips and suggestions in the comments!)