What’s the deal with the new #FacebookHashtags?

likeabosshashtagsIf you’ve been on Facebook lately, you might have noticed that something new is appearing in people’s statuses—and, if you have a Twitter account, you might be familiar with it already: clickable hashtags. Sure, these hashtags have been appearing in people’s Facebook statuses for quite a while as a bleed-thru effect from Twitter, but Facebook has recently (in the past few weeks) rolled out “hashtag support”—which means that these hashtags are no longer simply static text in a status, but are now clickable, archivable, and searchable.  Per Facebook, “Hashtags turn topics and phrases into clickable links in posts on your personal timeline or your Page, and help people find posts about topics they’re interested in.”

So, how does it work? Easy. All you have to do is add the number sign (#) in front of any word or phrase you want to turn into a hashtag. For example:

  • “Whew! What an exhausting day. #tired”
  • “SO EXCITED to be going to my brother’s graduation! #congrats”

PRO TIP 1: If you’re hashtagging a phrase (such as the popular writer statement, “am writing”) rather than just a single word, make sure to combine the phrase into one single word (i.e., #amwriting). If you keep it as two words, only the word attached to the number sign will turn into a clickable hashtag (and you’ll look like a Facebook amateur and, clearly, no one wants that).

PRO TIP 2: Don’t go crazy with the phrases you choose. Keep them short and relevant. A hashtag like #deliciousdinner, for example, is easy to read (to digest, if you will), but a phrase like #ameatingadeliciousdinner looks like gobbledygook and could both take a while to decipher and be easily misread.

PRO TIP 3: Don’t feel that you must use hashtags. For some, using them comes as #secondnature (see what I mean? I’m a #hashtagbadass) while, for others, it’s mostly just an annoying Twitter crossover or a confusing bit of Facebook technology. If hashtags are not your bag, don’t stress about it—just ignore them and feel free make fun of the people who use them (I speak from painful personal experience here. #boohoo).

How can writers use Facebook hashtags to their advantage?

Because I am a writer, I almost always consider the “how does this benefit writers?” angle to thing. In the case of Facebook hashtags, there are many ways in which writers can use this new technology to their advantage, but the primary two are networking and marketing.

NETWORKING: If you’re a writer who is active on Twitter, chances are pretty good that you’re already familiar with a few writer-specific hashtags: #amwriting, #amediting, #pubtip, #askagent, and #wordcount. These hashtags, particularly #amwriting and #amediting, now translate nicely over to Facebook, and you can easily connect with other writers by just clicking on these hashtags (as long as the status on which the hashtag was used is viewable to the general public).

MARKETING: Now you can brand your writing with its own hashtag, which will not only make finding statuses mentioning it easy, it is also a way for you to connect and share with your fans. A well-known phrase uttered by your characters, the title of your book or series, or even your own name could be a hashtag that you attach to your posts about your work. Just make sure to not use all of them at once—which leads me to my last, and perhaps most important, point:

PRO TIP 4: Don’t go hashtag crazy. One or two hashtags in a status is cute and savvy. Seventeen hashtags? Not so much. Don’t be the guy (or gal) who says:

“OMG, LOVE MY LIFE #blessed #amsohappy #laughing #incredible #thisisperfection #unbelievable #yes”

Because chances are pretty good that, by the time they get to the end of your post, your readers won’t be loving their life. #bekind

Now you know what the new #FacebookHashtags are all about. Go nuts! Get out there and brand something!

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