Using The New Hashtag # On Facebook

facebook-hashtag[1]Those of you familiar with Twitter will understand what a hashtag is, for those of you not so familiar, a hashtag is Twitter’s unique creation that utilises the  # (pound) symbol at the start of a word or phrase to identify keywords or trending topics.

The use of the hashtags turn these words, topics and phrases into clickable links within your tweets that other users can then click on and find more related instances of the hashtag in other users tweets.

When Charlie Sheen was going through his much publicised ‘Winning’ phase after being fired from the hit TV show ‘Two and a Half Men’, Charlie, along with millions of Twitter users were trending the keyword ‘Winning’  simply by prefixing the word ‘winning’ with a # (pound), thus making the hashtag #winning.

In the example above, clicking on the hashtag #winning in a tweet would bring back a list on your Twitter Feed of all instances where that hashtag was in use.

Facebook and Twitter

When Twitter and Facebook accounts are linked and set up to auto sync, every tweet you make on Twitter becomes a post on Facebook and every post on Facebook becomes a Tweet on Twitter. With more and more people linking their Twitter accounts to their Facebook accounts it seems only natural that Facebook would also start to utilise hashtags in their posting system, if not only to avoid Facebook users that are not familiar with Twitter getting completely baffled every time they see a word prefixed with a # in their news feed.

As with Twitter, if a user clicks on a hashtag within a Facebook post they will see a feed of posts that related to that particular hashtag. It is very easy for anyone to make any word or phrase into a hashtag by simply adding a # at the start of the word or phrase. On Facebook, this is no different. As soon as you type the # symbol a blue box will appear over your tag, once you click post, your tag will appear in bold within your status update. If somebody clicks your tag it will take them to a feeds page of related posts containing your tag.

Facebook is tracking the hashtags that people are using, so a feed is always available even if you’ve not previously used the tag in a Facebook status update of your own. In the Facebook search box, simply type the tag of your choice, such as #cats, and click the page labelled hashtag. This will open the same feed of related posts as you would get if you clicked on a hashtag in a post.

It is important to remember that the hashtagging system is a merely a simple method for indexing related posts and tweets by the use of keywords. The hashtag #winning as in the example above was relevant to a specific news story at the time of the incident which meant millions of people were trending it. Using a hash tag just for the sake of it is not wise. For instance, I could create the hashtag #notlookingforwardtoworktomorrow, but how often will I ever use that hashtag and more importantly how often will somebody else use it? If the answer is never, it’s probably not a great hashtag to use. Keep your hashtags short, relevant and specific.

To find out if a hashtag is trending there are a couple of websites worth checking out: www.hashtags.org and hashtagify.me

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