Social Media Monday: Hashtag Etiquette

Can you believe that just a few years ago, this symbol # was called a pound sign? Well, thanks to Twitter, # will now (and forever more) will be known as the hashtag. It took a few years, but over time Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and now Facebook updated their sites to support this “social discovery” tool.

While we love hashtags around here (we are the Market America Social Media Team, after all!), we also know that it’s not hard to use and abuse these poor little guys if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re confused about how to effectively use hashtags on your favorite social media sites, here’s a quick FYI about hashtag etiquette on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

We highly encourage you to use tweet using hashtags and jump into the conversation that is happening now, all around you! But please, keep your hashtags to a maximum of three or less. You only have 140 characters, so use them wisely! Any more hashtags than that makes your tweet look like spam, which means your followers are less likely to pay attention to it.

Before you click “upload” and share that photo with your Instagram followers, make sure you include a fun caption and a few relevant hashtags. Note: I said “relevant hashtags” not “a ton of random hashtags that don’t have anything to do with your photo.”

For example, let’s say you upload a photo of you and your friends having fun at the beach. You might include a caption like, “Day off with my best friends. Hanging out at the #beach all day!” You then have the option of finishing off the caption with a relevant hashtag like #BeachTrip, but don’t post a trending hashtag on your photo that has nothing to do with the photo itself. If you’re at the beach, great; use the hashtag #beach. But for the love of social media, there is no need to tag your photo with #shopping, #pink, #food, or any other hashtag that is totally irrelevant.

#Does #it #annoy #you #when #your #friends #hashtag #every #single #word #in #a #post? You’re not the only one. I will be the first person to tell you that I LOVE that Facebook supports hashtags, but I do NOT love how people are abusing the feature.

Just like with Twitter, keep your hashtags to a max of 3 or less. You can include relevant (there’s that word “relevant” again!) hashtags either at the end of your post or within the caption itself (i.e. “Hanging out at the #beach all day!”). Keep your hashtags short, to the point, and three words or less… because #WhoLikesToReadLongHashtagsThatNoOneElseWillEverUseOnFacebookAnyway?

Keep in mind that unlike Twitter and Instagram, if your privacy settings are set to “Friends” (rather than “Public”) your posts will only be visible to your friends, hashtag or no hashtag. If you want the “public” to see your post (i.e. people who are searching for that specific hashtag on Facebook), you need to change your post’s privacy settings. Changing an individual post’s privacy settings is easy – I promise. Here’s how:

1. Write your Facebook post. Include a relevant hashtag.

2. Click on the drop down menu that says “Friends” and change the selection to “Public” (see photo below).

3. Post your update!

This applies to ALL of your wall posts, whether you’re sharing a photo, video, article, or status update.

Did I fail to mention one of your favorite social networks here, like Google+ or LinkedIn? Not to worry! These etiquette tips can be applied to both of those sites, among others! Happy hashtagging!

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3 thoughts on “Social Media Monday: Hashtag Etiquette

  1. Pingback: Social Media Monday: And the official hashtag of International Convention 2013 is… | Market America Blog

    • Thanks Wei Wei! We’re glad you found this post useful. Let us know if you have any other questions, we would be more than happy to help you! :)

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