Twitter As Search Engine

When I first became a Twitter user several years ago, I had no idea what a hashtag was. When my wife, who’s been using Twitter for five years, asked what hashtags I was using to help spread the word about my law practice, I laughed. Hashtags? Sounded like something between a short-order cook and a childhood game.

But when she said that Twitter had evolved into a powerful real-time search engine with millions of search queries each day (that number has increased to over two billion daily), and that hashtags were a means of conducting these searches, like for finding a lawyer who specialized in DUIs in our city, I decided hashtags were noble social media creatures.

Hashtag Format

A hashtag is the # character followed by a word or term; for example, #Colorado marks a tweet as relevant to the state Colorado. Hashtags can also be combined words; for example, #ColoradoCrime would refer to a crime (or subject relevant to crime) in the state. Sometimes people use several hashtags, such as #Colorado #Lawyer.

A few guidelines:

  • Twitter doesn’t allow punctuation in hashtags. 
  • The more specific the topic, the better.
  • Don’t overuse them in a single tweet (some people say use no more than three — too many are distracting and/or annoying)

Finding or Tagging Topics

People conduct over 2 billion searches on Twitter each day

Hashtags are useful for both finding topics as well as tagging a topic in your tweet so others can more easily find it. By the way, I just did a search on Twitter for #ColoradoCrime and it’s not a popular tweet — the most recent tweet tagged with #ColoradoCrime was nine months old.  So if you were interested in finding topics related to current crimes in Colorado, that wouldn’t be a useful hashtag. However, when I ran a search on #Colorado #Crime, dozens of tweets related to crimes in Colorado displayed, with the most recent dated a few days ago.

Within Twitter, you can search for a hashtag in the search field at the top of the Twitter screen, or by clicking a hashtag within a tweet. You can also run a search on a hashtag from your browser — results from both Twitter and Facebook will display (Facebook also uses hashtags).

Now let’s look at some useful hashtags for lawyers.

Common Legal Hashtags

Here are a few hashtags that relate to the legal world in general, from lawyers to courts: #legal #lawyer #law #lawsuit

For example, if you’re interested in attracting a broad readership for a tweet (such as for a blog post on a general legal topic), add the hashtag #legal or #law. When I post a new blog article, I’ll often add the hashtags #legal #blog

Legal Hashtags by Practice

Here’s a sampling of hashtags for different law specializations: #DUI, #personalinjury, #divorce, #familylaw, #patent, #bankruptcy, #criminaldefense

For example, a defense lawyer in Houston might add the hashtags #criminaldefense #Houston to a tweet that markets his/her practice.

Good Idea Not To…

Use legal jargon in hashtags (or anywhere within the tweet, actually). Jargon is great for legal eagles like lawyers, judges and paralegals, but jargon can easily alienate others, like potential clients.

Self-promote too often. I’ve heard that one self-promotion tweet per ten tweets is a good guideline.

Additional Twitter Articles for Lawyers

Lawyers guide to Twitter language and acronyms (Real Lawyers Have Blogs)

Hashtags in Law Firm Social Media Marketing Benefit Attorneys (

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Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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