Facebook @ Tagging Etiquette – A Guide For Personal And Business Use

Facebook @ taggingTagging your Facebook friends in photos is one of the most ingenious and popular features on the site. Tagging friends in Notes is another use of tags, though used less often than photos. In September 2009, Facebook broadened this tagging feature by allowing users to tag friends, pages, groups, events and apps in status updates and posts. This type of tagging is referred to as an “@ tag.”

Facebook intended for these tags to allow users to expand and enrich the way they share on Facebook:

We hope that tagging your status updates and others posts from the Publisher will enable you to share in a more meaningful and engaging way, and connect with even more people.

@ tagging has two primary components: 1) your original post has hyperlinks to the profiles/pages that you tagged as shown in the screenshot below, and 2) your post in its entirety also automatically posts onto the wall of whichever friend/page that you tagged. This latter feature has significant etiquette ramifications which I’ll discuss further in this blog post.

Six Facebook @ tags

I annotated numbers in red simply to show the count

Also, when you @ tag friends, they receive a notification of the tag and will receive further notifications anytime someone comments on that post. (Actual email notifications can be turned off under notifications. Go to Account > Account Settings > Notifications.)

How to make an @ tag:

To make a tag, in the status update field (publisher), type the “@” symbol then begin typing the name of the person/page etc. that you wish to tag. You’ll see a selection of choices in a dropdown menu (see image below) – click on the person/page that you want to tag. The person/page instantly pops into your post, highlighted in gray. Once you publish the post, the name of the person/page turns into a hyperlink.

Facebook @ tag demo

Facebook @ tag demo

(In the screenshot above, three of the choices in the dropdown menu are fan pages and the other two are friends of mine. I like to blur out last names/photos to protect privacy, just in case their privacy settings are such that only friends know they’re on Facebook).

What you can @ tag:

  • Friends
  • Fan Pages (that you’ve liked)
  • Community Pages (that you’ve liked)
  • Place Pages (that you’ve liked)
  • App Pages (that you’ve liked)
  • Events for which you’ve RSVP’d
  • Old style Groups you’ve created/joined – open, closed, secret*
  • New style Groups you’ve created/joined – open, closed, secret*

*In the case of @ tagging secret Facebook Groups, only members of the Group will see the tag as hyperlinked. All other Facebook users see the post with the name of the Group, but it’s not clickable. [I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to @ tag a secret Group, but I tested this out and confirmed with my friends that the Group name isn’t hyperlinked for non-members.]

I’m focusing only on friends and fan page @ tags in this blog post. I’ll cover Facebook photo and video tagging in a future post as it’s an equally complex topic!

Where you can @ tag:

You can have up to six @ tags in a status update — or when posting a photo, link or video — anywhere the publisher appears on Facebook. The publisher is the box where you write a status update or select a photo/link/video). For example, you can make a post on your own wall, friends’ walls, event walls, group walls, and the wall of any fan page, app page or place page you’ve liked.

Why use @ tags?

There are many great uses for @ tags. For example, one of the best uses of an @ tag is when you find a piece of content that you’d like to share with your friends/fans – you can copy and paste that content to your own wall and add an @ tag for the originator by way of attribution. This is essentially the Facebook equivalent of a “retweet” on Twitter.

Facebook does have the “Share” option below all posts that have a link, photo or video (but not a straight status update). When you use the Share button, it does have a link back to the originator. But the person/page wouldn’t necessarily know you shared their content; letting the originator know you shared their content is part of the relationship-building process.

My own intent with @ tags is almost always to give kudos, credit, attribution or promotion to others. The example below shows three fan page @ tags for friends of mine. I’m sharing a link to a book website; it’s not an affiliate link. My only agenda is to share terrific resources with my fans. Of course, sharing affiliate links is perfectly okay too. :)

Facebook @ tag etiquette example

Can you prevent being @ tagged?

You cannot prevent your profile or page from being tagged. You can remove profile tags, however, which I highly recommend you do any time you feel you have been inappropriately tagged. When your personal profile is @ tagged in a post, there is a little “Remove tag” link below the post. If you remove your tag, your name remains intact, it just won’t be clickable.

The screenshot below is actually a great example of a positive @ tag message with a nice thank you (the tag is my personal profile; there is no “Remove Tag” option on fan page @ tags):

Facebook Remove Tag Example

@ tagging etiquette

I believe it’s very important – from a strategic relationship-building standpoint – to always give careful consideration as to a) how your post will come across on someone else’s profile or page wall, and b) whether the post might get a lot of activity, thus creating a logjam of notifications for the friend(s) you tagged. (Note that fan pages do not receive notifications). Here are my general guidelines on do’s and dont’s:

Do use @ tagging:

  • To acknowledge and give credit.
  • To provide attribution for content you share.
  • To show appreciation.
  • To help promote other fan pages.
  • To cross-reference other fan pages, assuming there is no conflict of interests.
  • To @ tag your own page strategically (e.g. by way of a signature when making wall posts).

Do not use @ tagging:

  • As a way to “poach” fans from other pages that offer the same/similar service as you do to the same/similar target audience.
  • As a way to post your own affiliate link on the wall of the affiliate program owner’s fan page.
  • As a way to get someone’s attention for self-serving reasons.
  • As a way to “imply endorsement” by that person/page.

When your post shows up on the tagged person/page’s wall, the only option is to “View Post.” Nobody can like or comment on the post. They have to come back to your original post – whether you made it on your personal profile or fan page.

With your personal profile, depending on your privacy settings, nobody can comment/like unless they’re friends with you.

Equally, when you @ tag from your fan page, users are “forced” to come visit your fan page if they wish to comment/like the post, but first they have to  join (like) your page. Of course, used effectively in a win:win way, this can be a very good thing and it’s how most people use @ tags: as a way to create visibility for yourself on other fan page walls.

I will say one of my own frustrations is not being able to comment on a tagged post when the person/page is asking me a question. I would love to see Facebook change this so at least the page being tagged could provide a response. Often, I like to just say thanks! If someone asks me a question by way of an @ tag from their fan page, I will carefully consider whether to join their page to answer the question or not. A workaround is to copy and paste the question with your answer into a Note or as your own status update.

There really is a fine art to the practice of tagging other pages from your page. As a great starting point, always ask yourself, “What is my deepest intent?” If you’re truly adding value and helping lift up the other person’s business and fan page, people will feel that positive intent.

@ tag then remove from their wall

Often, I like to use an @ tag as a way to provide a link to a page of a business I support. But I don’t necessarily need/want to have my post show up on their wall. A way around this is to go ahead and publish the post with the @ tag, then go and remove the post from the other person/page’s wall.

In the screenshot below, I wanted to let my friends know about my friend, Gary Ryan Blair’s extraordinary program, the 100 Day Challenge. I promoted the program using my own affiliate link; but I also wanted people to know that Gary has a Facebook fan page for the program too. Immediately after I made this post, I went to the 100 Day Challenge page and deleted my own post. This may not be necessary if a page has their wall set to be posts by page only (fan posts show under a separate filter).

Facebook @ Tag example with Affiliate Link

Include An @ Tag, Then Remove From Their Wall

Examples of @ tags working

I polled my Facebook community for their input on this complex topic of @ tags – see the informative thread here. Following are a couple of good examples of how businesses are using @ tags successfully. World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) has a Facebook Fan page with close to four million fans! As Corey explains below, the WWE use @ tagging regularly for cross-referencing:

WWE Facebook Tagging Example

WWE Facebook Tagging Example

And, in this example, Courtney explains how strategic use of @ tags on one of her pages caused a spike of 100 new Likes vs. their average of 20 a week:

Facebook Tagging Etiquette Working

What not to do

In this example, Alana talks about a strategy many Facebook users adopt where they just run amok with @ tags and don’t stop to think how they are impacting their relationships:

Facebook Tagging Etiquette - What Not To Do

Facebook Tagging Etiquette - What Not To Do

I find this practice Alana’s talking about rather inappropriate too. I dislike being tagged when someone has a question for me and in order to answer that question, I have to go to their wall.

How have you found success with @ tags? Do you use them much at all – for personal? Or for business? When do you think it’s inappropriate to use @ tags? What is your pet peeve with @ taggers? 😉 Did I miss anything important here? Please share freely in the comments below, and remember I’ll publish a whole separate post on the fine art of photo and video tagging on Facebook!

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Mari Smith

Forbes Top Social Media Power Influencer | Facebook Marketing Expert | Globe-trotting Speaker, Author | 'Mari like Ferrari' | Bubbly Scottish-Canadian!

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Posted in Facebook Fan Pages, Facebook for Business, Facebook Marketing, Facebook Tips, Relationship Marketing
  • http://www.eljadaae.nl Elja Daae

    Great article Mari, thanks! You are my go-to source for all the technical know-how regarding Facebook, I don’t know how you found out all these things! Things like tagging are quite complicated in a way. All those complicated details on using Facebook that nobody seems able to unearth, you have the answers AND put them all together in valuable articles…Thanks!!

  • http://www.eljadaae.nl Elja Daae

    Great article Mari, thanks! You are my go-to source for all the technical know-how regarding Facebook, I don’t know how you found out all these things! Things like tagging are quite complicated in a way. All those complicated details on using Facebook that nobody seems able to unearth, you have the answers AND put them all together in valuable articles…Thanks!!

  • GreenFoodGal

    One of my writers ventured outside our normal geographic bounds and wrote a foodie travel article about it. I figured the hotels, bakers and restaurants would want to know that someone favorably reviewed them, so I tagged them all in the FB post and then did the same on Twitter. One of the restaurants even posted on their page with a tag back to our site. The article received so much visibility that it is now a hyperlink on a regional tourism site. Powerful!

    appreciated when used properly.

  • Anonymous

    Mari, you’ve tackled and answered a massively popular and important FB question in tagging. The nail on the head for me was really when you said “What is your deepest intent”. That really will guide you down the right path as far as tagging. Folks tend to forget, myself included, that social media is first and foremost about helping others and building relationships. You did a great job at highlighting the tangible ways to do this via tagging.


  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Thank you, Nathan!!! I appreciate your kind words and am glad to see you hear!! Virtual high five, my friend! :)

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Verrrrrrrry wise words, Warren!!! Totally agree. Thanks for adding your thoughts and paying it forward too!!

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Wonderful!! Wow, awesome success story!!

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Thank you for your kind comment, Lee!! You’ve made my day!!!! xx

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Thank you! I’m always delighted to share! This turned out to be a far more complex blog post to write – I thought I could do so in an hour… ended up taking several. But, for sure worth it!!! :) Will be fun to tackle photo tagging next!~

  • Anonymous

    Great, timely topic Mari. I recorded a video and did a write up about this recently. You really break down the mechanics to a greater degree. I agree with NathanLatka and your point about deepest intent. If you follow that it is highly unlikely that you will have problems. Of course I am sure it doesn’t matter what you do at some point there will always be someone who doesn’t like it. That’s ok, there is a way to remove friends. :)

  • Anonymous

    Hey Mari – for clarification – when you said:

    “your post in its entirety also automatically posts onto the wall of whichever friend/page that you tagged. This latter feature has significant etiquette ramifications”

    it is my understanding that tagged pages do not have the post show up on their wall. For example I allow wall posts by people who like my company page, but when they @tag my page their post doesn’t show up but it does provide a link to the page on their post (which is often the purpose of tagging a page). I just confirmed this is the case. Is there a non-default setting on a page that allows tagged posts of that page to show up on their wall? Maybe Facebook eliminated it?

    “your post in its entirety also automatically posts onto the wall of whichever friend/page that you tagged”

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Aha, yes — what you’re likely experiencing is either a) a recurring bug that has been plaguing Facebook users for awhile insofar as @ tags don’t always show up on the other person/page’s wall and/or b) the person/page has a policy of removing @ tags promptly. With the latter, I know many fan page owners prefer to keep a “clean” wall and remove @ tags. I do myself, but selectively. I *love* to see who’s tagged me by way of attribution, for example; it helps me see who is consuming/sharing my content (just like watching who’s often retweeting you on Twitter). But, in order to make my wall easier for other viewers to see, I remove any duplicate postings.

    Hope this makes sense!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had no issues getting the tags to show up on friends walls, that is a pretty massive bug with pages. It looks like pages tagging pages appears to work more consistently. Facebook is an odd creature. :)

  • http://insidmaldesign.com insidmal

    These are practices I was already using the tagging method for, but you did a great job of laying it out in a simple and easy to use guide.. I hadn’t ever thought of then removing the tag from the other persons wall before, most popular pages don’t show others anyway so it usually doesn’t show up, but that is a good idea to do give Attribution or use it for Reference without making it look spammy on the other end.

  • Dee Reinhardt

    I have noticed that you can use @ tags in original status updates on facebook, BUT are you able to @ tag in a follow-up comment?

  • http://twitter.com/erikakerekes Erika Penzer Kerekes

    Thanks for pointing out that it’s crucial to think about how your tagged post will be viewed by the page you’ve tagged. I’m generally pretty careful, but once, posting very late at night, I tagged the page for the company I worked for, in a context in which I probably shouldn’t have (and wouldn’t have if I’d been thinking more clearly). Got a terse note from someone in headquarters early the next morning. No lasting ramifications, but I was embarrassed.

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    heheee – thank you, dear Susan!! Some days I surprise even myself – haha! I swear I must work in my sleep. :)

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Hi Erika – so glad this is the piece you picked up on in my post. I really think so many Facebook users are either blissfully unaware of the fact their post is on the other wall… or they have no idea how it’s coming across to the page owner. So sorry to hear of your tricky situation though. Sometimes we have to learn through direct experience, right?! :)

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Dee, tags do not work in comments, only the original post (i.e. in the actual Publisher).

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Thanks for your kind words!!

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    Lol, odd creature is right! The page tags are just intermittent. I never used to be able to tag my own page (or profile) but it works now!

  • http://facebook.com/marismith Mari Smith

    True! It’s that old saying, “You can’t please all the people, all the time. But you can please some of the people some of the time!”

  • http://twitter.com/mqtodd Michael Q Todd

    Agree with Nathan Latka. What people forget now is that this @ tagging feature was a response by Facebook to the increasing popularity of Twitter. Twitter is about sharing and promoting others.
    When I first joined Facebook 2 and a half years ago you gave me the wonderful tip that my wall was my business card Mari. The content that people see when they visit my wall should be about me and al other stuff removed. In what circumstances would you remove a post from your wall after you have been tagged? Does removing the post remove the tag?

  • Christiane Lavanoux

    Dear Mari,
    Congratulations on your handy step by step guide to tagging! This is such a valuable article with highly solid and helpful content plus a much needed etiquette. My thumb up for your powerful yet thoughtful attitude!
    Warmest regards,

  • Lee Horbachewski

    Thank you Thank you Thank you Mari… YOU are a gift – people need to learn the etiquette of tagging…

    How have you found success with @ tags? Yes I definitely have – used from the purest intention to promote others and share…
    Do you use them much at all – for personal? Or for business? I use them every day for both…
    When do you think it’s inappropriate to use @ tags? When people tag me to get me to read something OR what I perceive to get to my network/friends..
    What is your pet peeve with @ taggers? Over use and without positive intention…

    I am sharing this PHENOMENAL post with my network and friends…


  • Warren Whitlock

    Thanks for this post. I’m going to point to it often when some friends are trying to learn tags.

    There is no good spam. And adding a tag on something just to get attention is spam.

    Like every other spammy technique, most of my friends think they are the one exception. The webinar they are holding is so important, the charity they support is so needy, or the news they share is so universally revolutionary.

    No, it’s not… if you spam, it’s spam. Like walking it to a crowded party and yelling “look at me, I need attention”

    There are so many ways to share and get attention for good ideas today.. and millions who are LOOKING FOR WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO SAY.. no need to waste the time of the billions who aren’t

  • Laura

    Mari, I appreciate the thoroughness and depth of the information you’ve provided. It’s like a mini-bible for @tagging. The ability to tag is a privilege, and I hope, through your fantastic post, to be able to better explain the nuances of responsible tagging to my own clients.

  • Susan Liddy

    Thank you Mari! You are an invaluable resource for everything FaceBook! How do you do it?! .

  • http://www.calahansolutions.com Stephanie LH Calahan

    Mari – Great post. I have used the tagging as attribution since I started RTing on Twitter. (he he). Interesting thing, I shared your post on a private group on FB and tried to tag your page and or your profile for attribution and you did not come up as a possible tag. Just to check, I tagged you on a regular status update no problem. It appears that when I’m in the group, I can only tag people that are members of the private group. Interesting.

  • http://JustLikeAMagic.com Mohammad Elsheimy

    Hope that every facebookie reads this 😉

  • Dee Reinhardt

    Thanks Mari, you do a great job in explaining so much about social media. If you have any pull with FB, could you suggest my idea?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks very much for the clarification Mari!!

  • Anonymous

    Not sure if I am off topic here but I have a question to tagging of photo’s that now appear on my profile banner.If I don’t want the photo’s to appear then I need to untag them,however if those photo’s of me are from someone else,will I lose that photo from my album then altogether?

  • Social Activist

    This was a great post for the novice to the pro, great information!

  • Marymargaret

    Woo Hoo! Thanks Mari. I just shared this blog, tagged your fb page and removed it. It’s taken me months to uncover the maze of this wonderful gift.

  • http://twitter.com/TheGoddessCoach Ar’nie Rozah Krogh

    I have also come across many people creating a personal FB profile but as a business. They will then post loads of pictures of their products and tag countless people in it, me included. Sometimes they are for products that I will never endorse in a million years. That I find super annoying. I only tag friends names in Notes I write when they have asked me to tag them in posts that I know they will be interested in. Thanks for the rest!

  • http://twitter.com/TheGoddessCoach Ar’nie Rozah Krogh

    My pet peeve with this indiscriminate tagging is when people create personal profile for their business and then put up loads of their product pictures, tagging me and others in it. Some of these products I will never endorse in a million years. I only tag my friends in Notes I write in my Fan page when they have requested or when I know they have interest in the article I’m writing. For the rest, great article Mari!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tandi Tandi Glenn Smith

    When I tag a business from my personal page publisher, why is it not showing on the business page? They have their settings so that anyone can post to their wall.

  • Sam

    The tagging frenzy is a really interesting debate. With Facebook being a social website, people naturally want to share their social activity, tagging friends in photos and when they check-in. But I think the difference and my concern with tagging in status updates and through aps is the lack of control a tagged individual has. Why can’t Facebook use the same control functions with tagging in updates as it does with photos – in other words an individual approves it before it is published? That way people would have the option to reject a tag before they become associated with something they might not want to.

  • Jonathan Oliff

    Thanks for the post Mari! I also find it frustrating that I can’t comment on my fan pages with my personal profile, so I just have to go with the “Like” option on a persons comment to say thank you to them. Do you suggest the personal status update as well?

  • Bob

    Mari, this is really great. I have used @ tags in the past and this really helps. As always, you are a great source of wonderful insights and information. Always useful and always pertinent! Thanks again.

  • ellathinks

    As always, these tips are awesome. Here in the Philippines, Online retail sellers mis-use and abuse photo tagging. They keep tagging people’s name in a photo of the product that they are selling. :( so unethical. Wish they could apply these tips your gave us

  • tanmom

    How do I get fans to post something on their wall, and tag my business page?

  • Tanmom

    I don’t mean to sound stupid..but my Fans are tagging my business page with @____ but it;s only showing up on their wall, not my Business Page.

    Suggestions please?

  • Jonathan Oliff

    Hey Mari, having a problem with “@ tag then remove from their wall” option today, tried different browsers too but can’t remove, you can only “Report as abuse” or “Mark as spam”
    Do you think they’re just testing page features or is this going to stay?

  • http://twitter.com/websongdotcom Websong

    How does facebook allow individuals to approve tags before they are published? As far as I know, they don’t – you can only remove the tag after it’s been published. The only way to prevent being tagged is to not be friends with people who carelessly tag in the first place, and the same goes for pages. If a page abuses their tagging privileges, they will lose fans quickly.

  • Julie DiBenedetto Molliver

    Has any of this changed with the new Pages? I tagged two pages from a personal profile post, and my post doesn’t appear on either walls of the Pages. Just wondering if this changed because I really like and depend on tagging to get data on walls.

  • Susan Liddy

    I hear you about working in your sleep.
    You are doing an amazing job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=634035719 Shelley Seale

    I would really like to know how people tagging my business fan page, can show up on my wall. I can see that 11 people have shared my blog post by doing a search on FB, but those tagged posts do NOT show up on my business fan page. ???

  • Heather Corinne

    I’m having the same issue

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