You may have heard the news that Facebook is now allowing the use of hashtags on their site. But what exactly does that mean? More importantly, what is a hashtag!?
Let’s start at the beginning.
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag consists of words or phrases (with no spaces), preceded by a # sign (i.e. #SBW13 or #StanleyCup) that is used to tie various social media posts together and relate them to a topic. Topics are sometimes connected to an event, TV show, sporting event, or any happening or trend of your choosing. Originally, hashtags were created on Twitter, but today they can be used on Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Vine.
By clicking on a hashtag in a social post, that social network will automatically curate and display a feed of other messages also incorporating the same hashtag.
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Facebook + hashtags
This week, Facebook was the latest social network to implement the hashtag feature (feature is rolling out gradually to users):
Here’s an example of the stream of posts you’d see when clicking on #Facebook:
In terms of privacy, don’t worry about private friends-only posts with hashtags on personal profiles. They will only be shown to your chosen audience. However, hashtags on business profiles are public. With or without hashtags, business page posts are public.
What is the point of a hashtag?
Hashtags let you add context to a post and show that it’s a part of a larger discussion. They can be good for connecting people to other individuals discussing the same topic and are also great for connecting people at events.
How can I use a hashtag?
To create a hashtag, simply include a # in front of a word or phrase, without spaces. A hashtag can occur at the beginning or the middle of a post. As a business, you can use a hashtag to make an event even more social, join other conversations, boost the visibility of a promotion or explore new content for content ideas.
How not to use a hashtag
Don’t abuse the hashtag, save it for when you need it. Too many hashtags looks spammy, and research has shown that engagement drops when a tweet has two or more hashtags.
#DontCreateAHashtagThatsTooLong: Keep your hashtag short and sweet, easy to spell, and easy to remember. If you want to incorporate your hashtag across multiple channels, you need to consider the character restrictions of those social networks. If you’re creating a hashtag for an event with a long title like National Small Business Week 2013, consider using an abbreviation or acronym, #SBW13.
Extra Tip: Do a search for the hashtag you intend to use before you use it. You never know what people may be using hashtags to discuss. You wouldn’t want to accidentally connect your business to a negative, controversial or embarrassing topic.
It sounds complicated, why should I use a hashtag?
Whether you like them or not, hashtags are a key part of social media marketing. In fact, 71 percent of people on social media use hashtags. They aren’t that bad either. The same study found that 43 percent of hashtags users think they’re useful and 34 percent use them to follow categories and brands of personal interest like your business!