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Using Hashtags On Facebook Can Help Increase Your Organic Reach

Facebook started pushing the use of hashtags in posts in July 2020, literally in a notification stating that by adding hashtags, you can improve your reach.


The Facebook Hashtag 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 bit of 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 have reported seeing a slight increase in reach with the use of hashtags.

Facebook Notifications - now you can improve your reach by adding hashtags to your posts
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

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 include hashtags in your Facebook posts!
  • Build your own sets of hashtags to paste into various posts for specific purposes, just like on Instagram.
  • Use Meta’s Creator Studio (or Business Suite) and you’ll see the option to click the ‘#’ symbol where Facebook provides a place to search, save and add hashtags.
  • Also, when you create posts for either Facebook or Instagram using Creator Studio (or Business Suite), typing the # sign and the start of a hashtag automatically populates with suggested tags. You’ll see the number of posts that include that hashtag to give you an indication of its popularity.
  • 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.
  • Recommended: use a mix of wildly popular hashtags in the millions along with some in the 100k’s and some very niche ones.
  • Consider creating your own unique hashtag as well to add to all posts.

On Facebook’s latest design, whenever you begin to type a hashtag, Facebook automatically suggests hashtags for you. Just like on Instagram.

hashtags on facebook suggested automatic tags
On Facebook’s latest 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

In May 2020, 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 is very popular.

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

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 hashtag pages to add their own post with a big blue call-to-action button.

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 also has ‘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

There’s also a ‘Browse’ button on the foot of posts to discover more about an included hashtag.

Facebook auto-inserts links to Instagram hashtags

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.

Facebook feed pages for #hashtag posts

The hashtag post feed pages are nice and clean and easy to navigate. Just type any #hashtag in the search bar.

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?

[This post was originally published on 7.14.2020. Updates were added on 3.1.2021 and again on 3.24.2022]

Mari Smith

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is widely known as the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert and a top Social Media Thought Leader. Forbes describes Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” IBM named Mari as one of seven women that are shaping digital marketing. Mari is an in-demand keynote speaker, corporate social media strategist, dynamic live webcast host, and popular brand ambassador. She is coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day, and author of The New Relationship Marketing.

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