What’s the Big Deal about Hashtags?

By Jen Merry
June 17, 2013


What is a Hashtag?
Put simply, a hashtag is a name given to the # sign by social media users. Hashtags are used to start a word or a sentence (written without spaces) to relate a social media post with posts from other users discussing the same topic. Originally started on Twitter, hashtags are now seen on virtually all social media channels. Clicking a hashtag will bring up other posts also using that same hashtag. For example, clicking a hashtag like #fatcowisawesome will show you other fans of FatCow!

How is Facebook incorporating Hashtags?
Due to Facebook’s various privacy settings, hashtags will only work if your post is set to “Public”. When you click a hashtag within a publicly available Facebook post, you’ll see a popup with all of the other posts using the same hashtags. If any of these posts are from a Facebook friend of yours, then they’ll be listed first, followed by other public hashtag posts displayed below those.


If you are using “Graph Search” on Facebook, you can search for hashtags in the search bar.

Facebook Search Hashtag

Run contests with Hashtags
A popular use for hashtags is for running a contest and keeping track of contest participants. For a contest, you’ll want to create a unique hashtag that only participants would be using to enter. This makes it easier to separate out followers interacting with your brand for support or similar reasons from those intentionally using the hashtag to participate. A simple search of the hashtag at the end of the contest period will lead you to a list of all the entries. One example of this is with a recent contest sponsored by the fast food chain Wendy’s, who were promoting their new Flatbread sandwich. To participate, customers were asked to post a picture of their sandwich along with the hashtag #TwEATfor1k

Choose your hashtag wisely.
The following Do’s and Don’ts pertain to all social media channels where hashtags are currently used:

-Do use hashtags to engage your customers and be involved with communities discussing similar content. Properly used hashtags may be reused by your followers, leading to higher visibility for your page or campaign!

-Don’t combine a long string of words together to the point of not even being able to read it. #Thatsnotveryeffectiveatall

-Do use tools (such as https://www.hashtracking.com) to help choose meaningful hashtags that are already being used and could get your post more visibility..

-Don’t #hashtag #every #word. Try to keep your tagging limited to no more than two hashtags per post.

-Do search for a hashtag name before using it to make sure you’re not connecting your business with a negative or controversial topic.

-Don’t hashtag the words within your post (aside from on Twitter where you have character limits). On Facebook and Google+, put hashtagged words and phrases towards the end of a post.

The main rule of thumb is to only hashtag meaningful words that will help get your brand involved in a conversation.  Tweet This!

This entry was posted on Monday, June 17th, 2013 at 2:04 pm and is filed under Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

10 Responses to “What’s the Big Deal about Hashtags?”

  1. Cole Hubbard Says:

    Although Facebook’s own users have been using hashtags for some time, often as an addition to comments and status updates, they will now be able to click on the hashtagged words as a search term and view a feed of discussions relating to that topic.

  2. Charity Stout Says:

    Hashtags are mostly used as unmoderated ad-hoc discussion forums; any combination of characters led by a hash symbol is a hashtag, and any hashtag, if promoted by enough individuals, can “trend” and attract more individual users to discussion using the hashtag. On Twitter, when a hashtag becomes extremely popular, it will appear in the “Trending Topics” area of a user’s homepage. The trending topics can be organized by geographic area or by all of Twitter. Hashtags are neither registered nor controlled by any one user or group of users, and neither can they be “retired” from public usage, meaning that hashtags can be used in theoretical perpetuity depending upon the longevity of the word or set of characters in a written language. They also do not contain any set definitions, meaning that a single hashtag can be used for any number of purposes as espoused by those who make use of them.

  3. Essie U. Best Says:

    Facebook is still deciding whether it should adopt the same approach by using hashtags to guide online users in finding all related conversations about a particular topic or to incorporate other functions to add more uniqueness.

  4. Pranjal Says:

    I am so obsessed to use hashtags, first time it was Twitter where, I came to know what the hashtag actually is! It always led me to some active conversations with lots of twitter user across the globe.

    I am not used to Facebook, but, will definitely consider your Do’s and Don’t for using them across all my social profiles. :)

  5. Celia C. Leach Says:

    When Facebook first launched hashtags, it only made them available on the Web. But now, users should be able to see them pop up on mobile. However, they still aren’t available on Facebook’s iOS and Android smartphone apps, according to TechCrunch.

  6. silver price Says:

    Right off the bat, brands will now be able to cross-post from Instagram in a more meaningful way. Previously, any posts on the other platforms using hashtags looked strange on Facebook. Posts using hashtags will have greater public reach on Facebook. This is important because, not only will brand posts show up in the news feed of people who ‘like’ their brand page, they will also show up in the feed specific to the phrase/s used. Using them the right way will help brands to reach a broader audience with their messaging and allow brands to join in on relevant real-time conversations.

  7. Garland R. Jensen Says:

    When Facebook first launched hashtags, it only made them available on the Web. But now, users should be able to see them pop up on mobile. However, they still aren’t available on Facebook’s iOS and Android smartphone apps, according to TechCrunch.

  8. Wade B. Daniels Says:

    Zuckerberg may have fallen in love with hashtags after the famous $1 billion buy out of Instagram in 2012, and as many of you would see in your feed, any friend sending Instagram content to Facebook usually carries a litany of useless hashtags on their update, links currently not clickable. However, many questions remain, as Facebook still has yet to officially confirm the move to hashtags, let alone how the new Facebook ecosystem will work.

  9. Tony Sanchez Says:

    Facebook is tracking those hashtags people are using, so a feed is always available even if you’ve not previously used the tag in a Facebook status update of your own. Simply type the tag of your choice, such as #cats, and click the page labeled Hashtag. This will open the same feed of related posts as you would get if you clicked on a hashtag in a post.

  10. Steven Says:

    You can choose your hashtag wisely with the Sopularity app:

    It suggests the most appropriate hashtags for your tweet.

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