Facebook recently announced the birth of hashtags aka #. While many had their reservations saying #s are for Twitter they are actually extremely useful and open up a whole new reach. But as yet I am still to see many of my friends and businesses use them to any real benefit. I have carried out some research and put together an explanation and tutorial which I hope will help and encourage the use of #s on Facebook.

What is a hashtag?

My favourite explanation of a # I found was from the Telegraph “Making it easier for users and advertisers to find and use hot spots of user activity around specific events or topics”. This is my version: a # is simply a link to another feed where people can view similar posts about your topic, it’s essentially a tool to group conversations.

You were always able to add in a # in your Facebook content before but they didn’t have any real use. Now they do!

An example from a personal point of view: Say you like fishing. Type in #fishing in the Facebook search bar at the top left of the page and you will come to a feed where people have posted and used the hashtag #fishing. If you’ve caught a beaut and want to show it to the world post it and include #catchoftheday or similar and it will reach more than just your friends.

An example from a business point of view, if you are writing a status on your Facebook page like “check out this fantastic offer on our new bathroom range” you may finish it with the hashtag #offer or #bathroomoffer. This then opens up your status not only to your current page fans but a whole new stream of people who are interested in and searching for your topic, offers. You can search for #offer in the search box on Facebook by typing #offer and your post along with many other offers would come up in the feed.

How can hashtags help me?

I think the most obvious is that it broadens your reach. It allows you to get your posts in front of people who may not have previously seen your topic. If you are struggling as a business page to get likes and engagement on your page, using a # could help you immensely. Let’s say you run a cleaning company and you are posting tips on a regular basis but not really getting much interaction from your current fans. If you end your post with the hashtag #cleaningtips your post will then appear in a new feed where people want to read cleaning tips and they will therefore be much more likely to engage with you.

You can save time by posting the same content across social platforms like Twitter, Instagram and other networking sites that use #. Previously posted to Facebook and Twitter was enabled but almost unaccepted by Facebooker’s as it was seen as being lazy because #s were for Twitter not Facebook! But now you can. This can save time in editing posts to suit each platform. Be careful though because some people still don’t like #s on Facebook, perhaps they are not aware they can use them or it’s because they haven’t quite cottoned on yet? I would suggest not overusing and only using # when relevant to your content, not on every post.

Are there any drawbacks to #s on Facebook?

Currently Facebook’s privacy settings mean that if you don’t want a post to be public it won’t be, so even if you # it, if it is private only your friends will see it under that #. Only conversations from public pages or public status updates will be shown.

These privacy settings can make it tricky to target your customers on Facebook too. This is because the reasons that people use Facebook are entirely different to the reasons people use Twitter. In a recent study the question was asked…

Why do you use Facebook?

The response: To keep in touch with family and friends, to update everyone who cares about their lives, to nose on other’s profiles, to keep up to date with birthdays and to generally stalk people.

Why do you use Twitter?

The response: To keep on top of current affairs, learn from Influencers, share knowledge, read news stories and to keep on top of the latest celebrity gossip.

I guess this kinda means that Facebook and Twitter are just not the same and never will be. The reason people use them is totally different. Bear this in mind when posting your #s on Facebook.

How do I write a post with a hashtag?

There are a few simple rules:

  • Ensure it is alloneword
  • You can have CapitalsAnywhereinThehashTag it doesn’t matter!
  • You can make #s up. If you’re launching a new brand or product this is a great way to get people talking about it. We saw this in my ‘Share a Coke’ article #shareacoke.
  • Do your research and find out what #s will get you the best reach and engagement

I hope this article has shed some light on #s for you and if you liked it please share it #facebook #Google+ #Twitter – Thank you muchly!