Social Media for Financial Advisors: How to Use Hashtags
Social media is like a conversation between two people. You start a conversation with a post, others comment and the conversation grows larger. It feels natural until you see the hashtags and your conversation starts to sound like this:
Hashtags sound pretty weird when spoken out loud. These odd no-punctuation words definitely stand out on social media. But despite how odd they may feel, they’re incredibly important to a successful social media presence.
This is because each social media platform has tools and responds to hashtags differently. Despite these differences, there are several best-practices across all platforms to keep in mind. But what is a hashtag?
Hashtags use a single, uninterrupted line of text. That means no punctuation and no spaces – like “#WealthManagement.”
In function, hashtags have a list of uses and benefits. Let’s jump in and learn how to use hashtags within Lead Pilot.
The Different Uses for Hashtags
The function of a hashtag doesn’t change much between platforms. It serves as a tag to relate to a larger subject and to group your post under that subject. The context of a hashtag is what differentiates its use. Here are some common reasons you might include hashtags in your post:
1. Improving Searchability
Hashtags act as search terms on many social sites. Running with our example of #WealthManagement, if we were to search this term on a website like LinkedIn, we would receive a list of posts that have used this hashtag as a label.
By including a hashtag in your post, you include your post into a results page that targets that search term. On LinkedIn, the above search would include any content and accounts that contain #WealthManagement.
2. Showing Awareness and Joining a Conversation
Adding a hashtag to your post can help include you in a greater conversation. This works best with hashtags that are related to something timely, like an event. Better yet, If this is an ongoing conversation, then you can demonstrate awareness of current events.
Just as hashtags can be used to join a conversation, they can also be used to create one. Creating a hashtag around your brand name or a relatable phrase can be a method for categorizing all of your social posts. In turn, this makes your content more searchable. As an added benefit, it is easier for others to tag you by using your new brand hashtag, adding their content to the conversation when it’s searched.
Jeanne Fisher, CFP®, CPFA, of Strategic Retirement Partners uses this strategy with #401klady. All of Jeanne’s posts can easily be found using this hashtag, and it helps define a brand behind this content – 401k and retirement. Make sure to find something original and related to your topic if you decide to use this strategy in your social posts.
4. Targetting an Audience
When adding hashtags, many firms will include subjects that are within their industry. Things like #WealthManagement and #FinancialPlanning show up a lot. These are great hashtags, as they do a lot of the above. But you want to consider who is actually looking for these hashtags. Remember user intent, especially if you’re targeting a specific audience.
TriPrescient does this in the following post. Instead of using hashtags related to their service, they choose to target specific and searchable terms used by their audience.
Always Capitalize Different Words:
A common mistake of creating hashtags is to simply write out the included words back to back. This would still work as a hashtag, but many brands have done this in the past. It can be embarrassing when some words are placed next to one another, without any visual separation. To make sure this doesn’t happen, always capitalize different words in your hashtags, no matter how long they are.
Include Hashtags at the End, Unless they Fit Context:
Hashtags can be added to posts in two areas. The most common local is the end of the post, separated from the rest of the copy. Alternatively, hashtags can be added to the body of the text in place of other words. For example, you might use a hashtag for a brand name, instead of writing it out. Including hashtags in this way makes them feel more natural. Just remember, if you’re going to include a hashtag in the body of your copy, that it needs to be relevant to the rest of the text, don’t include it without reason.
Double-Check the Meaning of Hashtags:
Similar to capitalization, some social media users have used hashtags that did not have the right meaning. They may have made the hashtag up and thought they were the first person to use it. Or they could have assumed it meant something else. Either way, double-check the meaning of any hashtags you want to use by searching them on the platform you intend to post. This way you can make sure your post is being included in a relevant conversation and avoids being related to something embarrassing.
Less is More:
Many platforms show a preference for a limited amount of hashtags – usually no more than three. Too many hashtags have a detrimental effect. Your posts could appear spammy, or disorganized. No one wants to read a post that is more hashtags and less actual body text. With such a limitation, a target of no more than three hashtags is a good range. However, the context of your post can bring this number higher or lower. This rule applies mostly to hashtags at the end of your posts, the ones that don’t belong in the body text. Feel free to include them if they fit into text naturally, or as a replacement for another word.
How to Use Hashtags Successfully On All Major Social Media Platforms
Hashtags on Facebook
Hashtags were not very common on Facebook before 2012. But after Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, a platform known for a large number of hashtags, Facebook users started including more hashtags into each post. This trend continues through Facebook’s evolution, and following the less-is-more strategy is best. According to TrackMaven’s data on hashtags in social media, one hashtag is best for Facebook engagement. But remember the golden rule, hashtags will depend on context. If you find that more hashtags would add value to your post, then include them.
Hashtags on LinkedIn
LinkedIn has several features that integrate Hashtags. For social posts, best-practices apply. But LinkedIn contains an added feature. LinkedIn will provide hashtag recommendations based on the content of your post. This can help you find relevant hashtags without having to do the research beforehand. Hashtags can also be searched on LinkedIn and will bring up a feed of related posts and people. And similar to other content, hashtags can be followed. Doing so will bring content under this hashtag to your feed.
Best-practices should be applied, and LinkedIn itself recommends no more than three hashtags. Though be aware of the difference between a hashtag and a mention. If you’re looking to tag or mention another person or company on LinkedIn, including the @ symbol before their name is preferable to a hashtag.
Hashtags on Instagram
Deviating from our best-practices, Instagram posts prefer more hashtags. But there are a few rules to be aware of when using this platform. First, using several hashtags includes your post into a variety of conversations, so just like the other platforms, search the hashtag before using it to make sure that it fits the context of your post. According to TrackMaven’s study of Instagram hashtags, aim for no more than 10.
And as a visual platform, make sure your hashtags relate to your image. When adding a hashtag, include most of them at the very bottom of your post, preferably out of the visible portion of your text. Depending on the purpose of your post, Sproutsocial recommends 125-150 characters for Instagram. Make sure to record your hashtags for future use, but be careful to not use the same hashtags for every post. Doing so can mark your posts as spam. Remember, always consider context and include hashtags that fit your post first.
There are a variety of ways to find the best hashtags for your social media accounts and discovering them doesn’t have to be challenging. As you determine your list, make sure you keep the best-practices for each platform in mind and aim for audience variety – find both niche and general topics to focus your post around.
Though more time consuming than the other tips, searching a platform for hashtags is entirely reasonable. This will let you see the context of the content, and in some cases give you new social accounts to like and follow, encouraging the same towards you. Just make sure not to turn away from a hashtag that doesn’t have a large volume of followers. If you check the context of these terms, you may find they fit your post well, and can help you discover a niche audience. Make sure to track the performance of these hashtags as you use them.
Going to a competitor’s social page can give you some insight into the terms they use to find their audience. Using some general terms doesn’t hurt, but make sure to include much more variety in your final list. You don’t want to copy them after all.
Tools like Hashtagify let you discover hashtags related to your niche or area of expertise. These tools usually focus on one or two social platforms but are still great for general use across social media. Trendsmap is another handy hashtag tool, which displays relevant hashtags used in a specific geographic area. This can be an incredibly helpful tool to get involved in conversations that are local to you and where your business operates. If LinkedIn is one of your chosen platforms, remember to utilize LinkedIn’s built-in hashtag recommendation tool.
How to Easily Add Hashtags to Social Media Posts in Lead Pilot
Lead Pilot provides an easy process for adding hashtags to your social posts, no matter how many channels you’re active on. By using Lead Pilot, you can select shareable content, then customize it with your chosen hashtag list for each platform. This allows you to post new, customizable content quickly and easily, without having to log in to different social platforms and draft your own. Here’s how you can add hashtags to your social posts, using Lead Pilot.
Hashtags were prominent in our most recent webinar, where Samantha Russel showed the tips from above in action. Check out this clip to learn more and see how you can use Lead Pilot to easily apply hashtags across all of your social channels:
Guide to Adding Hashtags to Lead Pilot Posts
From your Content dashboard, select an article you would like to post. For this example, we chose the following:
2. A new menu will appear, containing a preview of the chosen article. Select the “Create Draft” if you’d like to edit the post. To share the edited or original post, click the “Share“ icon in the upper right.
3. After selecting “Share,” you can toggle and customize the platforms you use and posts you’d like to share. To add hashtags, click “Customize” on the chosen platform, and click in the text field in the drop-down menu. From here you can modify your post and add hashtags before sharing. Click “Post” once you’re done to share your post to the chosen platforms. Make sure to customize each post for each platform.
Though building a social media presence can be a slow process, it is incredibly worth the time. By understanding how and when to use hashtags, you can increase your social media performance and improve your return on time invested.
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Stuart is a Content Marketing Specialist at Twenty Over Ten and enjoys creating content that both entertains and educates. A Game Designer at heart, he can be found pursuing one of his many hobbies during his free time.
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