Hashtags On Facebook Help Increase Your Organic Reach In 2020

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July 14, 2020 8:32 pm

Facebook recently started pushing the use of hashtags in posts, literally in a notification stating that by adding hashtags, you can improve your reach.

Finally!

The Facebook Hashtag 2020 Definitive Guide: What Marketers Need To Know

Jump to each section with the links below, or just read ‘n’ scroll!

Hashtags on Facebook first launched clear back in 2013 with an update in 2016. And, frankly, hashtags never really seemed to take off, and never made much difference on Facebook. In fact, I recall seeing some reports over the years showing that using hashtags on Facebook might lower organic reach. And, for many users that auto-publish Instagram posts to Facebook, complete with a ton of hashtags, it never looked right.

That is, until now!

Heck, if we can get even a teeny increase in organic reach, I say use hashtags liberally on Facebook!!

You may have seen a notification on Facebook like this prompting you to add hashtags to your posts to improve your reach? LOVE that! Thank you, Facebook. Many members of my Social Scoop Facebook group are starting to report seeing a slight increase in reach with the use of hashtags now.

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Notifications New You can improve your reach by adding hashtags to your posts. 17 minutes ago …'
Facebook notification encouraging use of hashtags to increase reach.
Screenshot provided by Heather Coy Moonka?, used with permission.

Post privacy: who can see your posts with hashtags?

Before we go any further, let’s talk about the all-important topic of privacy!

As with all content on Facebook, the author/owner controls the privacy settings. So, if you publish content on your personal profile to friends only, then only friends can see that content. Makes sense, right? If you include hashtags in a personal profile post, with privacy set to friends only, then that post *can* be surfaced in the hashtag post feed page … but, will still only be visible to your friends.

Same thing with private groups. Including hashtags in your Facebook group posts is a good practice now, given Facebook is stating you’ll get better reach. This likely goes for all types of posts. However, with group posts, yes they can also be surfaced in the hashtag post feed page, but ONLY for members of that group.

So, don’t be alarmed if you go to check the feed of a hashtag you’ve used in a private group, and you see your own post at the top. You’re seeing it there because you’re in the group!

You can always check the little privacy icon next to the time stamp on any post. The globe is always public. The group of three people is groups. Two people is friends. The gear icon is custom settings which you may see on personal profile posts and/or business page posts, meaning visible to only specific audiences.

hashtags on facebook posts privacy settings icons mari smith
Privacy settings and their icons across all of Facebook.

Tips for using hashtags on Facebook in 2020

Here’s what to know, so far, about using hashtags on Facebook:

  • You can easily discover what hashtags are in use on Facebook by typing in the search bar on either the desktop or mobile apps, just like on Instagram.
  • Plus, on the main Facebook mobile app, just start typing your desired hashtags and Facebook will make additional suggestions:
suggestions of hashtags on facebook mobile app mari smith #foodie example
Just like Instagram, Facebook suggests hashtags when you start typing in the main mobile app. H/t to Jacki Pitkow in my Social Scoop FB group for pointing this out.
  • Definitely start including hashtags in your Facebook posts now!
  • Build your own groups of hashtags to paste into various posts for specific purposes, just like on Instagram.
  • Try using Instagram’s search to discover the right hashtags for you, including related hashtags. Meaning, do your Facebook hashtag research on Instagram because, so far, Facebook does not show total post counts whereas Instagram does. This gives you a great sense of how popular a hashtag is, or not!
  • If you weren’t already, you can certainly link your Instagram account to crosspost to Facebook, and your Instagram hashtags now (finally!) actually have more impact on Facebook.
  • When you use Creator Studio to schedule posts on Instagram, typing the # sign and the start of a hashtag automatically populates with suggested tags. This feature isn’t on Facebook … yet.

UPDATE 7.15.20 — aha, today I got forced over to the new Facebook desktop design (again!) with no way to switch back to Classic. On the new design, whenever you begin to type a hashtag, Facebook will automatically suggest hashtags for you. Just like on Instagram.

hashtags on facebook suggested automatic tags
On Facebook’s new FB5 desktop design, automatic hashtags populate in a dropdown menu, just like Creator Studio for Instagram posts and on Instagram itself.

How many hashtags should you include in your Facebook posts?

As many as you want! (The character limit for Facebook posts is a whopping 63,206!) But, generally I would suggest adding 3-5 key hashtags. And then maybe expanding to 10-15 if you wish. More if you really want. Test to see what works.

I would also place hashtags mostly at the bottom, similar to Instagram. Also, if you just place a bunch of clear lines before your hashtags, Facebook removes the clear lines. So, again, just like on Instagram, you might place several “.” periods to create hard line breaks.

HOT TIP: Consider going back through some of your best performing Facebook posts and ADD hashtags! PLUS, be sure to add a comment and see if some of your friends/fans can add a comment, too. This activates Facebook’s “Story Bump” algorithm introduced on August 6th, 2013 and could help more people discover your content easier, especially video posts.

I tested this tip myself recently by sending an email to my subscribers drawing attention to a popular post about helping small businesses network in my Social Scoop Facebook group. When I went back to check the #supportsmallbusiness hashtag page again after a week, my Social Scoop post was back up at the top!

In other words, the post was at the top whilst it was fresh and getting good engagement then it got pushed lower down as the days went by. However, by giving the post a ‘bump’ with more comments, the post gets more visibility. You should totally test this on your own profile, group and business page posts. Let me know what you find!

Use #SupportSmallBusiness on Facebook

On May 11, Facebook introduced a series of features to help support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Screenshot showing the #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag promo on Facebook.
Source: Facebook

We’re releasing a “Support Small Business” sticker on Instagram and a #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag on the Facebook app to let people show their love for small businesses. Creators on Facebook can also use a new “in support of” tag to promote small businesses to their fans. —Facebook for Business

The use of #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag seems to be doing well so far. As you can see from the screenshot below, Facebook users have published a total of 3.2M posts that include this hashtag. I monitored this tally over the past few days and it’s grown by 400K in the past four days or so.

hashtags on facebook #supportsmallbusiness total count 3.2M mari smith
Hashtag post feed page for #supportsmallbusiness on Facebook – the only hashtag that shows the total number of posts and has an Add Post button.

This is the only hashtag that shows the aggregate number of posts on Facebook. All others, so far, are blank. This is a major difference between hashtags on Facebook and Instagram.

On Instagram, the same #supportsmallbusiness hashtag has over 16M posts. Of course, historically, hashtags have simply been much more widely utilized on Instagram vs. Facebook.

instagram hashtag #supportsmallbusiness total count 16 million posts mari smith
The #supportsmallbusiness hashtag on Instagram has 5x more posts.

Follow button

Another major difference, for now, between hashtags feed pages on both platforms is that Instagram allows users to follow a hashtags, whereas Facebook does not have this feature. I’ll be curious to see if and when they add it!

Create Post CTA button

Facebook encourages visitors to this #supportsmallbusiness page to add their own post with a big blue call-to-action button on desktop. This is also the only hashtag page on Facebook that has this option, as far as I can tell.

The same invitation appears on mobile underneath posts that include the hashtag, as you can see from this screenshot shared with me by my friend Michael Stelzner.

mari smith post #supportsmallbusiness hashtags on facebook michael stelzner iphone screenshot
Facebook encourages others to create their own post using the hashtag #supportsmallbusiness.

Join the challenge buttons

Facebook appears to also be testing ‘Create Post’ buttons on posts with certain challenge hashtags such as this one pointed out by my friend, social media industry commentator, Matt Navarra:

Hashtag browse topic button

Some users are reporting seeing a ‘Browse’ button on the foot of some posts to discover more about an included hashtag.

Image may contain: 1 person, text
Screenshot provided by Natascha Natako, used with permission.

This isn’t the first time the feature was spotted, though. According to this tweet with screenshot, Facebook was testing it back in April.

Check this new discovery out, too! For some popular hashtags, Facebook automatically inserts the full URL in parentheses encouraging users to check out the same hashtag on Instagram.

hashtags on facebook automatically inserts full link to discover the same hashtag on Instagram mari smith kelly cairns
Facebook post showing automatically inserted URL to the same hashtag on Instagram. Screenshot by Kelly Cairns, used with permission.

That Instagram URL and the [ ] and ( ) were added automagically by Facebook, not by the user.

Newly designed hashtag post feed pages

The hashtag post feed pages have a ‘fresh coat of paint’ and are nice and clean, with Facebook’s newer shade of blue branding color.

Will users make more use of these hashtag post feed pages by searching and browsing? Time will tell. However, even if use of these pages is fairly limited, the bottom line is we want to include relevant hashtags in all posts now in order to reach more of our audience. Like I said earlier, even if this gets you just a teeny increase, it’s worth the effort.

FWIW, here is Facebook’s small help section on using hashtags.

Your thoughts? Have you seen any other notifications for hashtag use or new hashtag features? What would you love to see to really improve the use of hashtags on Facebook?

[UPDATED 7.15.20 to add the section on automatic hashtag suggestions on the new Facebook FB5 desktop design.]

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