No 2 in the Series: 20 Useful Things To Make You A Facebook Super-User
Age alert!! If you are under 35 you probably know exactly how hashtags work on Facebook, and all social media channels, and won’t be interested in this blog at all!
It’s also really the basics for using hashtags for personal Facebook profiles, I’m not getting into hashtags for business use here.
Why to, When to, How to, If to use Hashtags on Facebook
A few weeks ago I carried out an informal survey of 30 people over 35 years old who, I know, are active on social media. It was quick and short. So short that there were only two questions! After asking those two, it frequently became necessary to add a third!
The questions I asked were:
- Do you use hashtags on Facebook?
- Do you follow any hashtags on Facebook?
- Do you have any idea what hashtags are, why they are used or how to use them?
The result was quite interesting, although not entirely surprising. Of those 30 people I spoke to:
- 1 person follows a few hashtags
- 7 use and understand hashtags
- 9 use hashtags but do not understand why or their function. “I thought it was a social media thing” was a common answer
- 13 had no idea what they were all about, why they are on posts or their function
What is the purpose of hashtags on Facebook, and social media?
Searching! Hashtags take that one word, or string of words (with no spaces), and group them into a searchable word.
You can either click on a hashtag you see, or put one into Facebook’s search box, (which you’ve probably used to search for people or businesses), and search the whole of Facebook for every post carrying that hashtag.
Brilliant, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter who posted the article, if they have the hashtag in their post, you can find it in a search. Clearly, some hashtags are so popular that it’s like Googling the word! Some will be buried so deep you probably won’t find them.
Want #gardeningtips? Have a #smallbusiness? Need #moviestowatch? Get the idea? Once you understand how to use hashtags, it opens up a whole new world of social media! Hashtags are not case sensitive, so if you are using a long-tail hashtag then consider #JewelleryDesigner instead of #jewellerydesigner.
If you choose to use them in your Facebook posts, one hashtag that relates to your post makes sense. But please don’t be putting a list of hashtags, sometimes longer than the actual post, with most of them not making sense and that will never be searched for. That’s just silly!
How do I choose hashtags to use on Facebook?
That depends on the purpose of your post. Check and see if it’s a popular one. Depending on what you are posting, or what you are looking for, it may be better to use less popular, or more defined, hashtags. Instead of #JewelleryDesigner, narrow it down with #SilverJewelleryDesigner instead.
Put it into your Facebook search and the result will show you how many people are using that hashtag in a post.
Facebook gives each hashtag it’s own URL: https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/jewellerydesigner, which you can edit directly in your browser.
How many hashtags should I use?
You might think they look cool, and will get your post noticed and searched, but too many hashtags do more harm than good! If you’re wondering how many hashtags you should use on a Facebook post? One or two is plenty. Three if you really must and the post has valuable content!
Instagram users tend to disagree. And they are correct. The rules are different for Instagram and Twitter.
Here is an example of hashtags used on Instagram, this post from Equine Lingo on Instagram. I count 19 hashtags, and that’s pretty normal… for Instagram. Not Facebook.
Why? What’s the difference? Truth be told, there isn’t really an answer to that! Facebook relies more on likes, engagement and shares from family and friends rather than on being found by hashtags.
The origin of hashtags
I’ll end with this bit of background:
Twitter started hashtags, the origin of which is credited to one Chris Messina, a ‘social technology expert’. You can read the whole story about the origin of hashtags here. Instagram followed, picked them up and ran with them and Facebook somehow became involved too. Although you can see them, use them and follow them, hashtags have never really taken off on Facebook. One reason for that has been linked, albeit informally, to “the age group of the average Facebook user” 😉
An exception would be Facebook for Business, or Facebook Pages.
To clarify, personal Facebook accounts are termed Facebook Profiles; business Facebook accounts are termed Facebook Pages. So if somebody says “have you joined my Facebook Page?” that immediately tells you they mean their business page. At least it should if they are using the term correctly!
For advertising products on Facebook, it is necessary to have a Facebook Page for your business. Selling is not permitted in a Personal Profile or in Groups.
Facebook owns Instagram, so they kindly developed ‘Facebook Business Suite’, an online tool that allows you to link Facebook and Instagram accounts, and post content on both platforms at the same time, just tweaking them to customise for each channel. This makes hashtags useful and very effective… if used correctly.
In the beginning hashtags were far more complicated. You formally had to opt in to be included in hashtag groups and receive messages. You also couldn’t make them up as you go along. They had to be ‘registered’ and put into play.
Let me know, in the comments below, if that was helpful and you learnt something 🙂