Often, as we browse through Facebook we can’t help but notice posts from friends or businesses that contain a ridiculous number of hashtags. These posts tend to look unprofessional, but you know, it’s social media and you’re supposed to use tons of #hashtags! Right? Now, don’t get us wrong, hashtags do have their purpose, but it seems that many users are using them everywhere on social media channels and don’t appear to know why. In this blog we’ll go over when, where, & why you should use hashtags in your posts.
Hashtags are used to easily index or group together posts that are shared that are on the same topic. In one way or another social networks have incorporated hashtags into their functionality. When used in posts a hashtag becomes a clickable link that allows other users the ability to click on them and see other posts around that same topic. Hashtags are used to target and reach people out of your normal reach or following and expose them to your content for higher engagement rates, more followers, & higher traffic to your site.
For most social channels there’s a logical answer on when to use hashtags. For example, on Twitter when you use them you gain access to new audiences that are not in your own following. This feature is used commonly to target large amounts of users reading tweets on a trending topic.
Within LinkedIn, a job searcher may use the #hashtag to search for open positions and job opportunities posted by personal profiles. On Pinterest you may be looking for decorating inspirations leading you to search #hashtags such as ‘office decoration ideas’ or ‘party decorating ideas’ and on Instagram you may be searching for photos or videos of a particular event or concert that is going on that you couldn’t make.
On Facebook a large percentage of posts are hidden due to the privacy settings of the user. So, we are unsure when you should use a hashtag with your post or read the posts around a certain hashtag when your only able to see a portion of the posts around a certain subject. This may be a clear indicator why hashtags on Facebook offer no boost in engagement.
Hashtags are sensible and work very well on Twitter, which makes sense as this is where hashtags originated from. Most of the users on Twitter are there to interact with others that are outside of their network or following by using the #hashtag. Adding hashtags to your tweets allows the ability to reach a much larger audience. The commonality that Twitter shares with Instagram, Pinterest, and to a certain extent LinkedIn, is that the users on those platforms are searching with #hashtags. In a sense, it’s a mini search engine.
Facebook uses this same functionality with being able to click on a hashtag and see similar posts on the topic at interest, but is largely a pointless feature. As we mentioned earlier it is very common for a user’s Facebook profile to be visible only to their network (friends) which is also used as the default setting. So, the downfall to using Facebook #hashtags are that you are not able to see anything even close to all that posts that are out there on the subject you are interested in as most are set as private and is ineffective for increasing visibility as Facebook doesn’t have a trending section of hashtags.
Now, we are not saying that it’s a disaster to use hashtags on Facebook. The main point of this post is to hopefully guide you in utilizing hashtags the best way possible for your purpose.
With other social platforms covering the bases of hashtag use and offering clear logical reasons for why a user would be searching for them we would hate for anyone to waste their time where it gives limited value. So, we would like you to think about the next time you include a hashtag in your content in a social media post consider what term or phrase a user would search for in a hashtag and post to correct channels for optimum outreach. Look at what popular ones are being used. Don’t just add a bunch of hashtags if it isn’t a term that a user wouldn’t search for, less is more.