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How to #Hashtag

By Lee “Lili” L. Leigh

If you are on social media, I’m sure you have seen friends and colleagues posting about Court Reporting & Captioning Week 2022! There have been some great videos and proclamations shared from around the country, and there are many group celebrations happening all week to highlight how much we love steno.

As great as it is to share our stories, we need to remember that this week is an opportunity for outreach as well as celebration. People use social media to take part in interesting conversations and content. We have to use the platforms in a way that our content comes across new screens. Hashtags help extend your reach beyond your followers. When you use hashtags, your posts become searchable by anyone on that platform. 

For example, musicians and video gamers may have a natural skill to do what we do, and this week would be a wonderful time to get their attention! But consider this: Would a 20-something gamer search for #courtreporter or #steno? Probably not. But they would notice #gamers #playing #streamer #videogame #pcgaming, etc. I just did a quick Google search and found the top 30 tags for gaming. Feel free to cheat and find the top options, but try to customize the tags to match your post. For example, I am a huge Star Wars fan, and I will make a couple of posts this week with my steno machine tagging #StarWars #nerd #bobafett #babyyoda #disney #themandalorian 

All that said, unfortunately, the various platforms all work differently. For the platform that started it all, you would expect Twitter to show more love for the hashtag, but it recommends a limit to the number of hashtags you use per tweet. Instagram lets you use up to 30 but does not recommend you use that many at one time. Facebook has them but doesn’t rely on them to function, and the new favorite, TikTok, uses them in a notoriously problematic algorithm.

If you would like to learn more, there are tons of great blogs, groups, and help articles out there. This one by Hootsuite has some good basics. And while most social media mavens all agree that just utilizing the top tags is not the best way to get noticed – they are popular for a reason: 230 million to 1.3 billion tags – it’s not a horrible way to start fishing for future reporters! Give a few of these a try on your next post!

Lee “Lili” L. Leigh, RPR, CRI, of Madison, Wisc., is a court reporter and broadcasting/CART captioner. She can be contacted at mxcourtreporter@gmail.com.

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