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.

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