The # symbol was invented to connect people, topics, and events you care about on social media. Though hashtags were initially invented to group tweets about a specific event or topic together for easy search, they have morphed into a form of creative expression. Since its birth on Twitter in 2007, the hashtag has found its way on television shows, advertisements, and other social networks like Instagram and Tumblr. However, one place you won’t find (functioning) hashtags is on the mother of all social networks: Facebook.
Though Facebook has been hesitant to adopt hashtags, Facebook users – unfortunately – have not. Since hashtags on Facebook are just dead text, they serve no purpose whatsoever. Therefore, many people are beginning to use hashtags solely for nuanced articulation, rather than functional references/groupings. Using hashtags in this manner on Twitter wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, since Tweets are limited to 140 characters. However, when you begin to incorporate this hashtag fad on Instagram and Facebook, people get a little excessive (to put it lightly).
I can understand the occasional Facebook user whose updates are a direct feed from Twitter and therefore contain a hashtag or two, but it drives me nuts to see photos with a million hashtags (like the one pictured to the left) in my FACEBOOK newsfeed. What’s worse, the people who post these photos to Facebook don’t even have a Twitter account, and therefore have no clue what a hashtag really is (or, needless to say, how to properly use one). So, hashtagging photos on Facebook turns into a game of monkey-see, monkey-do. The more people see it in their newsfeeds, the more people blindly join the bandwagon. Using hashtags on Facebook shows ignorance (and I won’t even get started on brands that do this).
So, for all you Hashtag-confused people out there, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Hashtags don’t belong on Facebook, EVER.
- When you post an update to Facebook, it publicly states where the update was shared from (Via mobile, Twitter, Insagram, etc.). Therefore, people can see if your Facebook hashtags are a direct feed from hashtag-friendly sites (like Twitter), and when they’re not it makes you look even dumber.
- ‘#The’ is not a hashtag. Hashtagging conjunctions altogether is unnecessary and should be avoided. (which brings me to my next point..)
- #Dont #hashtag #every #word #in #a #sentence – this does nothing but show ignorance
- Limit the number of hashtags in each post to less than 5 (I recommend 1-3). Photos with 10+ hashtags come off, at best, vain or crying for attention.
- Keep your hashtags short: 1-2 words, 3 max! None of this: “#everystormrunsoutofrain” (yes, I pulled this example directly from my Facebook newsfeed)
- Keep them relevant. If you posted a picture of yourself on Instagram, don’t throw in off-the-wall hashtags like #quote or #Love, just so more people will see it. Including irrelevant hashtags on your Instagram photos to get more likes makes you seem desperate and comes of spammy.
I realize that Facebook is currently testing hashtags in beta, but until they are a public feature the guidelines above still hold true (even if/when they are introduced on Facebook, don’t disregard steps 3-7). On that note, I’ll wrap it up with a great quote from Miki Pereanu:
“Hashtags on Facebook – or what happens when idiots become inspiration for the greater good of marketing.”