When Facebook announced users would be able to use hashtags in their posts, many people were excited. Those who are active on other social media platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, welcomed the functionality they were so used to using those sites. Meanwhile, others were confused. They may have wondered things like “What is a hashtag? Why would I use Facebook Hashtags? And how do I use # tags?” Looking for a quick beginner’s guide to hashtags? Simply put, a hashtag is the “#” sign before a word or series of words in your post that organizes your content and makes it easily searchable. This improves the chance others will see the post. Hashtags efficiently offer a way of grouping your status messages and trending topics on various social media sites. Via hashtags, you can quickly search certain keywords or trending phrases and know about what other people are saying about the searched word/phrase. That being said, there are some things you should know about hashtagging before you start tagging your every random thought. Here are some cool social media tips if you’re wondering how to use these new Facebook hashtags:
Join the Conversation
For years, hashtagging has been vital to managing Twitter content. With millions of users posting millions of 140-character bytes of information every minute, sorting through that information to find what you’re interested in is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
But by searching for posts with keywords marked by a hashtag — perhaps the name of a television show you like, a national news event or even a phrase describing an interest, such as “#booklover” — you can easily find other tweets or posts with that label. In addition to making it easier to find posts you’re interested in, tagging your posts allows you to be a part of the larger conversation on that topic. In essence, hashtagging enhances the social aspect of social media, letting you interact with others who share your passions.
Grow Your Friends/Followers Circle
While hashtagging allows you to organize your posts and find what you’re looking for, the real benefit is that it allows you to grow your social media circle and gain more exposure. For example, when you tweet your thoughts on a popular reality show and other viewers are looking for posts on that subject, your hashtag lets them find your thoughts and engage with you. When this happens, not only will you potentially build your list of followers, you’ll also increase the chance your post will be shared — again increasing your exposure.
While tweets are generally public, if you’re using hashtags on Facebook (a new feature designed to help users find relevant posts using Graph Search) keep in mind your privacy settings still apply. In other words, if you have your posts set to be viewed by friends only, even if you add a hashtag, only your friends will see the post. If it’s a public post, your hashtagged post will show up in the results of anyone searching for that keyword.
How to Use Hashtags (Correctly)
The key to getting the most from your hashtags is to use them properly. While incorrectly using hashtags won’t get you banned from social media (although it may irritate people enough that they stop following you) you won’t gain the maximum benefits of tagging your posts.
The best way to start using hashtags is to look at trending topics. On Twitter, you can target trending topics based on individual cities; try tweeting on one of those topics to take part in one of the day’s most popular conversations. You can also search a number of hashtag-listing websites to determine the right tag for your post. Some topics have official hashtags associated with them, such as major events or new products, while others may have user-adopted hashtags that will help your post be easily found.
How ‘Not’ to Use Hashtags
However, you’re not limited to one hashtag per post. You can put as many tags in your post as you wish — but more isn’t always better. You don’t want to hashtag every single word in the post, i.e., “#I#am#having#a#great#day.” Each of those words is a separate search term and your post probably won’t show up in any results. You also don’t want to tag the same word more than once in each post, as that won’t do anything but annoy others.
Another way to alienate followers? Adding hashtags that aren’t relevant to your content. A particular story may be dominating the news and thus trending, but don’t add those trending tags to your posts unless they are relevant. Someone searching for posts about a new law that’s been passed is probably not interested in your unrelated blog post.
Finally, use hashtags sparingly and only when necessary to provide context or when you want to attract a particular response. Randomly adding strings of words to your posts will not add much to the conversation, but using hashtags effectively will only enhance your social media experience.
How Hashtags Work on Different Social Media Sites
The concept of #Hashtags took birth on Twitter and it is obvious why today you need to use them to be successful on Twitter platform. As far as social media sites are concerned, Twitter’s major strength lies in its ability to generate conversations during live events. Concerts, Movie releases, TV shows, Music/Video album releases and even riots, natural calamities etc are some of Twitter’s most popular trending topics. To find these trending topics at a given time, search for key phrases in the top bar. Scan the results to find trending hashtags. These often also include “Twitter chats,” where you can join a conversation with others about a particular topic.
Since, it is only recently hashtags were introduced and they are so new to Facebook, folks are still trying to learn how to utilize them. As we know, tolerance for spam on facebook is very low and hence make sure that you are using hashtags sparingly and intelligently. As a rule, try not to use more than a few hashtags in a given FB status message and you should be safe as long as your are staying on-topic.
Oddly though, hashtags have had very little popularity in Pinterest. Irrespective of whether or not it has a hashtag, while searching something on Pinterest, you will find results. Due to this you need not worry about them while pinning. Focus more on writing good descriptions for your pins, instead. This will let people find your pin even though you don’t bother to add a hashtag.
About the Author: Ava Addison is a self-proclaimed social media addict. She also blogs about social media and digital marketing. She uses MyLife.com to keep track of her online profiles.