Have you ever asked yourself after scrolling past long lists of hashtags on Facebook, how do hashtags work? Rest assured, you are among many. In 2013, Facebook introduced the hashtag feature. It became wildly popular as everyone started putting hashtags at the end of their posts. Some participated because it was trendy, but not many people knew what they meant, let alone how to utilize them. If you are able to utilize them well, it will greatly benefit you and/or your business page. This article will help you understand what hashtags are, how they work, and how you can use them.
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What is a Hashtag?
You may have had some interaction with hashtags. Perhaps you have seen them on a friend’s or family member’s posts. Perhaps you tried them out as well, putting a peppy “#livingmybestlife” after your post about a recent hike. Whatever your experience with hashtags, know that they are not hard to utilize.
A hashtag is a “#”, or a hash sign, followed by a word (or words). Generally, a hashtag will be related to the content of the post it is placed in. A hashtag can be however long you want it to be. If you want to group an entire sentence after the hash sign, you are free to do that. You are free to put as many hashtags in a post, so long as you don’t exceed Facebook’s character count. Seeing that the character count on Facebook can exceed 63,000, you probably don’t need to worry much about space.
What Do Hashtags Mean on Facebook?
So you understand the basic concept of a hashtag…but what do hashtags mean on Facebook? The meaning of a hashtag is to link together similar content. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and click on a hashtag that is inserted on someone’s post. You will find yourself on a page where posts from all over the world are grouped together. You’ll also notice that each post will have at least one hashtag in common. You might think of hashtags as the name of a folder in a filing cabinet. Each time that content is posted with a hashtag, that post is copied and placed into a “folder.” Anyone searching that hashtag can view posted content containing the hashtag unless the post is limited to a certain audience.
Understanding how hashtags work needs to be coupled with an understanding of their purpose. Similar to how filing cabinet folders are meant to help you find alike information, hashtags help you find alike content. If you wanted to find some homemade recipes, you would want to search for something along the lines of #homemaderecipes. This would pull from posts that have that hashtag in them. This, if it is not obvious, is an incredible marketing tool for businesses, organizations, and influencers. If you can properly use a hashtag in a post, then you can boost the likelihood of your content being found by others. In addition, it is a great way to market on Facebook for free.
Do’s and Don’ts of Hashtags on Facebook
How hashtags work on Facebook is fairly straightforward. However, a discussion of how to hashtag requires both do’s and don’ts. After all, utilizing them to their full potential is more complicated than just listing words after hash signs.
Don’ts of Facebook Hashtags
- DON’T go in without a plan – Before anything else, you need to decide on who you are trying to get your content out to. This is largely determined by your content marketing strategy. As the hashtag is mostly a marketing and outreach tool, you need to find a place for it in your strategy. If you fail to do this, you might end up expending more energy and time than you need to.
- DON’T limit your hashtags to what is trending – You don’t have to limit your use of hashtags to those that are only popular or cliché. In fact, if you only use generic hashtags like “#throwbackthursday”, you may get little traffic as not many people actually look at generic hashtag posts. Don’t be afraid to create your own hashtags either. This can be a great way to make your content searchable, but easy to find in hashtag feeds. If you are lucky, some may follow your lead and start using your hashtag in their posts. You don’t just have to place your hashtags at the end of your posts either. It can seem more natural, in some situations, to actually use hashtags within the sentences of your content.
- DON’T use too many hashtags – Research shows that the fewer hashtags you use, the more interaction your post will get. This may seem counter-intuitive. However, users tend to see posts with several hashtags as “spammy” and not relevant to their search. This doesn’t mean that you need to just use one hashtag in every post. Using just one hashtag may result in your post not reaching many people. You will need to use good judgment and only use necessary hashtags. But a good rule of thumb is that you should almost never use more than three hashtags.
Do’s of Facebook Hashtags
- DO choose your hashtags carefully – Facebook posts can often be cluttered with hashtags that aren’t relevant or can contain hashtags that won’t see traffic. You need to make sure that your hashtags make sense. You can do this by identifying keywords in your content and using those as hashtags. Capitalizing the first letter of each word in your hashtag can make it more readable, too. Also, decide on some industry terms that relate to your content. You can, in addition, research trending hashtags to find out what is currently popular.
- DO find other ways to maximize your use of hashtags – There are many ways, aside from knowing how to hashtag, to maximize your use of hashtags. To begin, seriously consider running a hashtag campaign. This will build brand awareness and promote products or services better than almost anything else you can do on Facebook. If you go this route, you can use the URL that is linked to that hashtag feed on other sites. This will help generate more traffic to that feed. Another thing you might consider is going through your popular posts and adding relevant hashtags to them. If you really put some effort into it, you can think of other creative ways to use your hashtags.
What are Hashtag Campaigns?
With your newfound knowledge of hashtags and their do’s and don’ts, the next step is hashtag campaigns. If you understand how hashtags work, the concept of using strategies to drive users toward a specific one should make sense. Here are a few steps you can follow to launch a hashtag campaign:
#1: Decide on Your Campaign Type
There are many different approaches to a campaign that you can research and choose from. But those that are most often used tend to be giveaways, user-generated content, and community building. Before you do anything, decide on what type of campaign you want to launch and what your goals are for the campaign.
#2: Create Your Hashtag
This is where you really need to be creative. This hashtag needs to be unique and relevant to the goals and type of your campaign. If you are doing a giveaway, then some generic “#giveaway” tags can work. But if you are doing anything else, your hashtag needs to be a combination of specific elements. It needs to be unique, relevant, and simple. Don’t overthink it or make it too complicated for users to appreciate. But, at the same time, don’t underthink it and make it generic.
#3: Consider Involving Others
Partnering up with other companies or brands can increase the reach of your campaign. When you involve a partner, your content not only reaches your own audience but the audience of the partner as well. So it is important, if you decide to involve other organizations or affiliates, that they have common ground with your brand. Make sure to reach out to those who can help promote your campaign as well.
#4: Create Your Content
As you are writing and posting your content, make sure that it aligns with your campaign. If you start posting irrelevant content right in the middle of your campaign, it might reduce your campaign’s momentum. It might even result in the death of your campaign. Keep your content aligned with the goals and campaign type. And, of course, don’t forget to add your campaign hashtag to your posts.
What can be beneficial as you look to create successful content is to look at how other organizations use hashtags. Follow large companies and popular organizations for good hashtag examples. Here are some examples of successful uses of hashtags:
#WantAnR8 by Audi
This is a great example of utilizing users in a hashtag campaign. A few lucky Audi fans got to drive an R8 by posting with this hashtag. Other users saw their chance to do the same and started posting with this hashtag. Clearly, Audi knows how hashtags work.
#ShareaCoke by Coca-Cola
This is a great example of a user-generated content campaign. By a combination of contests and the sheer nature of their product, Coca-Cola was able to have incredible success. Taking a closer look at this campaign is highly recommended.
#TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin
Of all the hashtag campaigns you can find, this may be the best example of creative uses of hashtags. How often do you look at pages for toilet paper companies? Most people would probably say next to never. Charmin found a way around this and, through a humorous approach, was able to reach many people.
Start Using Hashtags on Facebook
Understanding how hashtags work can be a great boon for you and your brand. It can help drive traffic to your page, create brand awareness, and earn you a larger following. Of course, it is important to know some common do’s and don’ts regarding hashtags. But once you know how hashtags work and have a grasp on how to use them, you can find great success by utilizing them, especially in hashtag campaigns. If you need any help with utilizing hashtags, reach out to our team at SEO Design Chicago to learn how we can help.
- What is the purpose of a hashtag?
- How do I make a hashtag?
- Why should I use hashtags?
- How do hashtags work?
- What is a hashtag campaign?