Breaking Down Hashtags on Facebook

A recent addition to Facebook is the hashtag. While it is still underused by some and abused by more, the hashtag is one of the most important tools in social media and its evolution to Facebook is critical.

As is your understanding of its proper use.

First, let’s talk about how it works. Simply, if you put a hashtag (or a pound sign if you are resistant to change) in front of a word in a post that word now becomes a hot link and you can open up a stream of communication about that word in Facebook – and Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and other platforms – of which your message will now be included.

If you decided hamburger is the keyword in your Facebook post, then simply write #Hamburger in the post or as a trailing hashtag and you will be on the way to joining the conversation about hamburgers. You can also search for hashtagged keywords in the search functions of all the popular platforms and search engines.

The hashtag is in effect a sorting tool for all of the communications across social media. By having the ability to collate all the conversations on a particular keyword brings news, conversation, and fun topics to the surface of the millions of messages posted every minute online.

Some tips for success:

Don’t abuse the #.

Especially on Facebook, not everyone is used to the hashtag system yet so making posts with many #Keywords in them will drive people away from your content and brand. Try your hardest to limit yourself to three hashtagged words per post.

Wrong isn’t right.

Formatting the words is very important as well. Two rules of thumb are to capitalize each new word in your phrase if you are tagging more than one word (ex: #HamburgerAndFries) so it easier for the audience to comprehend. Also, do not use punctuation marks. Only letters and numbers can be included in a hashtag. #Hamburger2014 works while #Hamburger&Fries and #Hamburger’s do not.

Funny is serious

Finally, if you are using the hashtag to emphasize the punch-lines of your jokes you are using a tactic which is sure to frustrate your audience. As your Mom probably told you, “If you have to explain it, it isn’t funny.”

Just remember, using hashtags on Facebook – and the other platforms – is meant to be a helpful tool. If you want your business to be a part of the conversation then you need to be using them.

See also: How to Identify Relevant Hashtags for Your Business from our friends at Convince & Convert.

Gus Wagner

Gus Wagner is the President.Owner of The Rocket Group – an award-winning marketing and communications firm. The Rocket Group has specialized in building effective tools across traditional means and new media for clients in businesses, organizations, and nonprofits since 2001. Gus is also a five-time certified Social Media Strategist, a former Chief of Staff in the Missouri State Senate, a retired national champion amateur hockey coach, and a would like to be a singer/songwriter. His Welsh Corgi, Taffy, lets Gus and his wife, Farrah Fite, live with her in Jefferson City, Missouri.