Hashtags on Facebook 101: Here's the how-to

Posted on 6/28/2013 by Lydia Baehr Public Relations in Industry News Facebook Social Media Hashtags Tags social

Welcome to “Hashtags 101: Here's the how-to.” Be sure to sharpen your number two pencils and take good notes – we might throw in a pop quiz!

Facebook announced on June 12 that it will now feature clickable hashtags.  Hashtags involve prefacing a word or phrase with the "#" symbol to label it as a context clue or category.  Millions of Facebook users will be able to tag their content with keywords to make it searchable.

Hashtags have become an integral part of Twitter conversations and are essential to public relations and marketing campaigns. How will hashtags affect the average Facebook user's experience?

This is the first in a series of three posts exploring how hashtags will change Facebook. In this post we will explain what hashtags are and how you can use them.

Facebook will stagger the update allowing hashtags and not all user profiles may be able to use them immediately. Once hashtags have been enabled on your user profile, you can tag content by prefacing a word with the pound symbol (“#”). For example, to tag a picture of a sunset you would type "#sunset" in the description field or the status update text box. Once you add the hashtag, anyone will be able to click on “#sunset” and view all of the public content on Facebook that has been tagged by users with “#sunset”.

Users will also be able to enter hashtags into the Facebook search bar and quickly view everything that has been posted with a particular tag. For example, entering “#mountain” and clicking the hashtag option will return everything that has been tagged with the hashtag “#mountain”. Users will be able to control who can see their hashtagged posts with their privacy settings.

Facebook will also recognize hashtags from other services connected to a user’s profile, like Instagram.

We don’t know yet how hashtags will change the way people use Facebook. We do know that it will allow users the opportunity to see what other people are saying about a particular topic and will allow them to share content with larger audiences.

Hashtags on Facebook will have a positive impact on the ability for public relations and marketing teams to gather information. They will benefit from knowing what Facebook users are really thinking about a particular product, service or trend.

Public relations and marketing teams will be able to immediately gauge public opinion and identify customer-service issues. The most immediate benefit of Facebook hashtags will be to the consumer, now that it is easier to provide valuable feedback to businesses.

Who invented the hashtag? Why do hashtags exist? How old are hashtags? Our next post, “Hashtags on Facebook 102: The history of the hashtag,” will investigate the theory behind the hashtag and track down its inventor. We’ll also explore how hashtags help us form groups on Twitter and Tumblr.

Part three of our series, “Hashtags on Facebook 103: How will Facebook change?,” will end with a class discussion, so be sure to come ready to participate!