Hashtags were introduced to Facebook in 2013, but the use of hashtags has not taken off on Facebook as universally as it has on other social media platforms. Despite their lack of popularity, Facebook hashtags are an incredibly helpful tool to promote posts, share content, or for social media marketing for businesses. Learn how Facebook hashtags work and the best practices to take advantage of this function.
Adding a hashtag to your post categorizes it by the topic of your hashtag, adding a searchable, clickable link to your post. To use Facebook hashtags, follow the same general rules as other websites: type the hashtag symbol (#) and then whatever word or phrase you want to create a hashtag for. Any Facebook user can add a popular hashtag to their post or create their own, original hashtag.
Follow these basic rules to create a functional hashtag on Facebook:
- Do NOT use spaces: Just like on other social media platforms, putting a space in your hashtag will break the link and cut the hashtag off before the space. This can change the meaning of your hashtag to something totally different, so be sure to remove any spaces, even between words.
- Do NOT use punctuation: Punctuation, like spaces, will break your hashtag off at the last character before the punctuation mark, changing your hashtag’s meaning and leaving out the rest of your phrase. Avoid these symbols: ?, !, :, -, . , & and other special characters. Underscores will still work in hashtags.
- Numbers: Numbers can be included in hashtags on Facebook, but a hashtag of only numbers will not work.
- Go Public: If your profile is not public, your post will only be visible to your friends, hashtag or no hashtag. To engage with other users, check your privacy settings and make sure that your post is visible to non-Facebook friends as well.
The Trending Topics section of Facebook was removed in 2018 due to issues and complaints with how Facebook ranking trending topics. Still, there are often issues or events trending on Facebook and receiving high levels of user engagement. During big TV events, series finales of popular television shows, political events, or other high interest occasions, many users use hashtags to share their thoughts or updates on those events.
Whether you’re sharing content about the latest Game of Thrones season finale or taking advantage of a trending hashtag like #NationalDonutDay, trending hashtags are a great way to engage with other Facebook users and bring traffic to your posts. Just be sure to only use hashtags when they’re relevant – just because a hashtag is trending doesn’t mean attaching it to your totally unrelated post will help. Your post could be marked as spam and hidden if you use irrelevant hashtags.
To search for a hashtag that interests you, simply type the full hashtag into the search bar on Facebook and explore. The left side of the page has filter options to find the type of content you’re looking for. Facebook’s search function will likely show the posts using that hashtag with the most engagement, as it ranks those posts as most relevant.
Clicking on a hashtag will bring you to the page created by that hashtag link, which contains all the relevant posts containing that hashtag. This page will show your Facebook friends’ use of that hashtag as well as the top trending posts that have used the hashtag. You can filter the results on this page as well by who posted it, when, where, and the type of content you want to see. You can also reach the page for any hashtag by typing in the hashtag in the URL. The URL for any given Facebook hashtag, in this case we’ll say #coffee, is Facebook.com/hashtag/coffee. Simply type in the hashtag you’re looking for after the /hashtag/.
Facebook hashtags make your post easily searchable, meaning that your post is more likely to appear in a keyword search if it uses a hashtag than if it only used that same phrase without the hashtag symbol. This makes your post more visible so that other Facebook users can see and interact with your post once it is categorized by your use of hashtags.
Smart use of hashtags can improve engagement on your posts, as you can reach a larger audience and get more likes, comments, or shares when using hashtags. Using trending hashtags or specific hashtags for popular events can allow you to join an active conversation surrounding that topic. Businesses especially can benefit from hashtags on Facebook through branded hashtags or campaigns.
Facebook Hashtag Tips
Just like any other social media platform, there are good and bad ways to use hashtags. Follow these tips to optimize your Facebook posts and make the best use of your hashtags.
Don’t overuse hashtags. Studies have shown that using more than one hashtag can reduce engagement, and using more than two is advised against. This study from TrackMaven shows how user engagement drops on Facebook if you use too many hashtags. Only use one or two hashtags per post.
Only use relevant hashtags. Using unrelated hashtags can result in your post being marked as spam and hidden. Since you should only be using one or two hashtags, use the absolute best and most relevant hashtags to make the most of them. If you’re unsure which hashtags to use, look at accounts posting similar content or the top trending related content and see what worked for them. Popular hashtags are great to reach a larger audience, but don’t be too generic. If you’re posting for a company, try using branded hashtags.
Keep it short. Longer hashtags are harder to read and tend to be less popular and less engaging. Keep your hashtags as short and simple as possible. If you are using a hashtag with more than one word, capitalize the first letter of each word for better clarity #LikeThis.
Incorporate hashtags into sentences. Work your hashtag into the copy of your post, reducing the total word count and avoiding unnecessary repetition. Rather than posting “Watching the Game of Thrones finale, can’t believe that main character died! #GoTFinale,” you can replace the words, “Game of Thrones finale” with your hashtag since it says the same thing.
Any average user can use Facebook hashtags to improve engagement on their posts, but the hashtag function is especially important for businesses and brands marketing their content online. Most companies with a social media presence are using various platforms to share their brand, and Facebook boasts over 2.27 billion monthly users, a huge audience to target for greater brand awareness and exposure.
If your business is already posting content on other social media platforms, integrate social campaigns across platforms by using the same hashtags. If you’re using more than one or two hashtags on your Twitter or Instagram page, however, cut it down on your Facebook post to the most relevant hashtag or two to optimize your post on Facebook.
The best practice for businesses using hashtags on Facebook is to use a branded hashtag – this type of campaign creates a recognizable hashtag for your brand. Since you shouldn’t use more than one or two hashtags, a good formula is to use your branded hashtag and one trending hashtag when applicable. Brand hashtags can also be a call-to-action for other users, like the #ShareACoke campaign that encourages Coke drinkers to post a picture of themselves with their bottle. This kind of campaign encourages both product sales and engagement.
This example shows a great use of two hashtags: Coke included their branded #ShareACoke hashtag as well as the #RevivalTour hashtag for Gomez’s tour at the time. Using a trending hashtag combined with your brand hashtag will help your branded hashtag reach more users: they may not search or follow your brand, but they can find your post through the popular hashtag that they were initially interested in.