Hashtag use in Vocational Rehabilitation

Using hashtags in tweets and social media posts is something to consider to increase an agency’s social media presence.  We discussed hashtag use in the context of creating proof of performance and managing your online presence.  However, there are additional things to consider when a VR agency decides to use hashtags to communicate with consumers.

Hashtags (#) are used to group social media posts or pictures.   You can also use hashtags to create your own search term.  For example, an agency might have a standard hashtag that is added to anything they post (i.e. #MontanaVR).

Hashtags can also be used to organize and connect groups of people within online communities. Sometimes a conference or event will promote a hashtag so all the posts about the event can be found with one search. An example of this is the #SXSW hashtag used to share information about the annual South by Southwest Conference in Austin.

Here are some things to consider when using hashtags.

Research your hashtags

If you are planning to tag a comment, picture or tweet, Google the tag you want to use to ensure the results fit. For example, the hashtag #VR brings up lots of content about Virtual Reality.  If you post about Vocational Rehabilitation, #VocRehab may be a better hashtag choice.

Similarly, think about the words used in VR that may have a broader meaning.  If you Google #Transition you get a tweets about fashion, yoga positions, soccer strategy and the switch to chip credit cards.  There are not many posts about transition-aged youth.  A better hashtag might be #SchoolTransition.

Make sure your hashtags are easy to read

Consider the following hashtags:  “#socialsecurity” and “#SocialSecurity”.  Using capital letters helps identify the distinct words within the hashtag.  Capital letters (or lack of them) do not influence search results.

Be thoughtful about your use of hashtags

Only use hashtags that are relevant to your content and audience. It may be tempting to jump aboard a trending topic in an attempt to build your audience, but hashtag misuse is frowned upon. This can also end poorly if you don’t fully understand the meaning behind the hashtag (see this article on what happened to DiGiorno Pizza).

Think of hashtags as a search tool and be as descriptive as possible.  For example, tagging posts about a local job fair with #JobFair isn’t helpful unless you are sharing information that would be universally appreciated.  However, #Missoula2016JobFair is a descriptive search term.

Similarly, if you tag every one of your tweets with the same label (#VocRehab, for example), that search term becomes meaningless and people won’t be able to search for more targeted content.

Don’t over-tag posts – 2 to 5 hashtags per post is reasonable.

Hashtags are one tool to build an effective social media strategy.  Understanding how hashtags are used and what makes effective vocational rehabilitation hashtags will help you target your efforts.


Photo credit: oggin via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-N

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