Hashtags are great tools to help your content become discovered and to build your brand and business (especially on LinkedIn), but only if you know how to use hashtags and you use the right ones.

If you’re writing about the coronavirus on LinkedIn, you should be using hashtags so your content can be amplified and have a stronger impact.

But first off – what is a hashtag? Just like on Twitter or Instagram, a LinkedIn hashtag is any combination of letters, number or emoji that follow the # symbol such as #coronavirus. Any spaces or symbols used within the tag will break the link, so that means you can’t include apostrophes, commas, exclamation points or hyphens in your hashtag.

Hashtags help users find content on a specific topic. If you add hashtags to your posts, they’ll help you get discovered by other users, including those not connected to you (2nd and 3rd degree connections). This is because individuals now search for content under hashtags and click on the hashtags in posts. In addition, you can follow hashtags on LinkedIn, meaning that posts containing the ones you have selected will appear in your news feed.

How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn posts:

  1. From the homepage, go to the “Start a post” area at the top of the page (you’ll see options to share text, a photo, a video or a document) through symbols.
  2. Write, upload or link to your content
  3. Add hashtags using the # symbol

How to add a hashtag to a pre-existing post:

  1. If you want to share an existing LinkedIn post and add hashtags, simply click on share on the bottom of any LinkedIn post.
  2. Add introductory copy and relevant hashtags
  3. Hit share

Note: Hashtags should never be used alone with a post you write or share. They are best used to accompany introductory descriptive copy and a call-to-action – such as a link to your web site for more information.

How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn article

  1. From the homepage, click “Write an article on LinkedIn” in the “Start a post” area
  2. Go through the steps, including adding a cover image and when you are ready to publish your article, click “Publish” in the top right corner. A pop-up window will appear.
  3. In the “Tell your network what your article is about” field, add copy to introduce your article (LinkedIn will limit the word count), along with up to five relevant hashtags. This will appear as commentary above your article when you publish it.

While there is no limit to the number of hashtags you use on LinkedIn, aim to use no more than five. Otherwise LinkedIn’s algorithm may mark your post as spam.

Now let’s get back to the coronavirus, which has permeated every aspect of our lives for now. Please only write content that will educate and help others at this sensitive time otherwise you can seem insensitive, which can greatly hurt your brand. Also don’t use this time as an outright way to market – help others with useful content and webinars. This is the socially responsible way to stay top of mind.

Here are the trending (and not so trending) hashtags on the coronavirus with the number of current followers as of the time this article was published (of course the higher the number of followers the better, but hashtags with millions of users can bury your content, so it’s important to strike the right balance). Also, just because a hashtag comes up as a suggestion doesn’t mean you should use it – some of the ones that have the lowest number of followers were suggested to me by LinkedIn when I typed in a post about the coronavirus. In addition, niche-specific or industry-specific hashtags, like the ones in the legal field can connect you to others in the industry.

And if you work in the legal field add these hashtags:

  • #lawfirms (48,225 followers)
  • #lawyers (43,631 followers)
  • #legalmarketing (1661 followers)
  • Note – #lmamkt only has 95 followers (while this is a popular hashtag to use in the legal marketing industry, particularly on Twitter, it is not powerful on LinkedIn)

The following hashtags – especially those under 200 followers – are not worth including:

A few additional hashtag best practices – make sure your hashtags and your content are public so that they can be discovered by other LinkedIn users.

Follow the hashtags in the areas you want to write about because posts with these hashtags will then appear in your LinkedIn feed, so you can get new ideas on what’s being published and discussed on a daily basis. You can also pin several of your favorite hashtags to your LinkedIn home page for easy reference.

Online tools such as Hashtagify and Ritetag can help you learn what is trending topic wise and suggest relevant hashtags. Note that some aspects of these two sites are free to the public and others you’ll need to pay for.

Many professional service firms create a company hashtag and one also for their community service work (such as your firm name followed by the word “cares.” This is a good idea if you can get your employees in the habit of sharing the posts and using these hashtags. The idea that the general public or your clients will start using your hashtag to share is not likely, but they will search for content under these hashtags, so it’s a good way to keep a content catalog of posts and make it easy for interested audiences to find you. Also, keep the company hashtag short and simple – so for example abbreviating your firm name with initials and adding the word “law” if you have a long firm name or simply take the first two names of the firm and call it a day.

Hashtags should never be used alone with a post you write or share. They are best used to accompany introductory descriptive copy and a call-to-action – such as a link to your web site for more information.

Remember to keep a running list of hashtags for future use and share it with your team members. Add to this shared document and look at trends on the hashtags on a weekly basis to refine your hashtag strategy. Consider organizing them by category or popularity and add timely annual events such as #InternationalWomensDay.

A final word – don’t use a hashtag when you want to mention a person or company. In those cases, you’ll want to use an @ mention. This simply means that you type in the @ sign and then their name (or the company’s name), and you’ll be able to link the content to them.

Stay safe and smart – we are all in this together.