#amidoingthisright: A Guide to Facebook Hashtagging

You may have been told at some point, maybe even by me, that Facebook is not the place for hashtags, they are devices for Twitter and Instagram only. Well funny thing….

Facebook recently announced that the company is going to start integrating hashtags into its network, a move that should come as no surprise to anyone. Ever since Facebook bought Instagram, the hashtag has become far more ubiquitous on the network as typically Instagram photos are posted to Facebook with no altering of phrases like ‘#nofilter’. It wasn’t long before the annoyed ‘#ThisIsNotTwitter’ comments began drying up and the hashtag itself became a part of common vernacular.

The hashtag is an essential part of social media, especially when it comes to businesses. It allows one to become a part of a broader discussion, letting other people whom you may not know see your thoughts on a particular subject. A well-timed and composed hashtag combined with good content can really help you get noticed by a wider audience. The omnipresence of Facebook makes it the perfect platform for the hashtag. The sheer number of users (over 1.1 billion and counting) on the site would make it the third largest country in the world, with estimates saying it will surpass China in population in the next three years. By comparison that’s more than the total users of Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest combined. Furthermore the community is very active according to Greg Lindley, “during primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook” or essentially “a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night.”

Facebook hashtags will operate in the same way that they have on Instagram and Twitter, connecting a community on a single word or phrase. The hashtags will be searchable from the search bar. Furthermore hashtags from other services, such as Instagram, will be clickable as well.

So now that you no longer have an excuse to not use hashtags, how does one use them effectively? Here are a few helpful tips for the uninitiated:

  1. Hashtags are like keywords: a general hashtag like #smallbusiness might get you to be a part of a larger conversation, however you should also have hashtags designed specifically for your brand. That way people link specifically to you with that hashtag.
  2. Keep your eye out for business-specific discussion: Social media can be both an advertising and informational tool. Keep your eye out for trends which could offer either beneficial information (marketing or otherwise) or an opportunity to advertise yourself (as Oreo did at the Super Bowl this year).
  3. KISS: Keep it simple stupid, yes the old adage applies to hashtagging. Shorter simpler hashtags are more effective than larger ones.
  4. Avoid Clutter: 1 to 2 hashtags are more effective than 6 to 7. Twitter’s 140 character limit has thus far kept hashtag spamming at bay, that limit is not imposed on Facebook. Avoid looking like a spammer by using too many hashtags.
  5. Activate your hashtag: If you don’t use the hashtags you create they will never catch on; you need to get the conversation started about your hashtag, add it to your current marketing channels to get it out there.

Using these tips as a springboard you should be ready to join the #conversation!

Additionally, as a sort of PSA, don’t forget to double-check your personal privacy settings. Hashtags make posts far more easily discoverable to others, for better or worse.

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