This morning I received an email asking if it was ok to use hashtags on Facebook. First, let me ask you, what do you think when you see hashtags being used on Facebook?
What are Hashtags
For those of you that don’t know what hashtags are, a hashtag is “a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic”. You’ll often see them embedded within status updates on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, or following captions on Instagram. Since they are used to identify messages on a given topic, hashtags offer a way for users to search based on those terms.
What platform are you using?
Depending on the platform being used, you’ll either notice the hashtags or you may not. Hashtags gained their place on Twitter when a user would add a hashtag either in the body of the post or at the end of it so that the post could be grouped with other similar posts on the topic.
Twitter users could then click or search on the hashtag to trigger a search on that topic.
Hashtags on Facebook
On Facebook, hashtags can also be used as a search term, and there are a people that utilize hashtags with every post. However, when it comes to Facebook, there are questions as to whether they belong, or if they should be used. In my experience, these questions tend to come from small business owners that are trying to market their business through social media, but may not really understand the proper use of hashtags. The topic isn’t a cut & dry one, in fact, it can often spark hours of debate amongst social media professionals.
What it boils down to is two basic schools of thought:
- Hashtags are great for search, so use them.
- Hashtags annoy Facebook users, so don’t use them.
I, myself, tend to favor the second and here’s my reason why:
Facebook’s search has advanced to a point where terms are searched within status updates without the need of hashtags. Whereas we could certainly use hashtags on Facebook, it’s important to use them carefully so as to not turn followers off. Unlike Instagram, where multiple hashtags are expected and common, hashtags on Facebook can appear out of place, causing unnecessary negative attention.
If you’re going to use hashtags on Facebook:
If, however, you’re of the thought that hashtags are great for search, then here are a few tips that will help your post blend with the others:
- Use your hashtags in a more structured manner. Think about the terms being used and make sure that the hashtag term is relevant to the topic of the post.
- Avoid adding a large list of hashtags at the end of the post. Instead, embed the term as part of a sentence with the post itself.
- Before clicking “post” or “publish”, reread your post. If any of the hashtags look out of place to you, then chances are that they’ll look out of place to others as well. Edit your post so that the hashtag flows a bit smoother with the rest of the text.
Think about it, when was the last time you saw a hashtag being used on Facebook? What were your initial thoughts when you saw it?
Now, if we were speaking about the use of hashtags on Instagram, I’m all for it!