Including hashtags in your tweets — identified with the hashtag symbol (#) — is an excellent way to increase the visibility of your message, says Kirtarath Dhillon, social-media and public relations coordinator with Advisor Websites in Vancouver.
Hashtags function as keywords on Twitter to help users find conversations taking place about a particular topic. For example, if you're discussing the latest mobile technology for financial advisors, you could add the hashtag #FinTech to your tweet, to signal that you are taking part in a larger conversation. Your tweet will become accessible for anyone searching that hashtag, Dhillon says, and your message will be exposed to a much larger audience.
Here are three tips on using hashtags on Twitter:
1. Use hashtags judiciously
A common misconception is that the more hashtags you include, the more conversations you can join, Dhillon says. However, your Twitter audience won't see it that way.
"Twitter is as much listening as it is speaking," Dhillon says. So, you should avoid appearing self-promotional. Try to use one or two hashtags at most.
"If you're perceived as ‘spammy'," Dhillon says, "that's the No. 1 reason people will ‘unfollow' you."
Too many hashtags will also limit the space available for your message, which is more important than the hashtag itself.
2. Insert hashtags at the end of your message
Users will often click on hashtags to learn the latest news or opinions about a trending topic. However, if you include hashtags too early in your tweet, Dhillon says, users may stop reading and jump to the larger conversation.
If you include the hashtag at the end of your tweet, Dhillon says, people will probably read your message before clicking on the hashtag. You want readers to absorb your tweet, develop an opinion and then engage, Dhillon adds.
3. Start with popular hashtags
Often, users will create their own hashtags. But, Dhillon says, that is not a good idea for advisors starting out, who may have only 100 or 150 followers.
"Go with hashtags that have previously earned traction within the tweet space," Dhillon says. "Once you develop a significant influence, such as 10,000 or 15,000 followers, then you can pick your own hashtag."
If you're still growing a following, Dhillon says, #FinTech, #FinServ and #RoboAdvisors are popular hashtags you might try. Or you can test the prominence of other hashtags by typing them into the Twitter search bar.
Next: How to measure your impact on Twitter.