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When, how to tag on social media

BY TAYLOR WYLLIE
It used to be that all it took to maximize social media was knowing how and when to post something. Since then we have entered an era where mastering social media is a profession within itself. Posts likely show up in your feed that have been carefully crafted in phrasing, timing and subject matter.
And they can look complex too — with seemingly random highlighted names of both people and companies.
This is tagging. It’s impactful, will keep you relevant and is surprisingly easy to master.
Think of tagging as bringing relevant people or companies into a conversation, like cc’ing someone on an e-mail that concerns them, or talking about someone while they’re in the room.
To get into specifics, you should absolutely tag:
When you mention a person, or company.
Don’t overthink social media. When you have a main subject that’s tagable, tag them! But don’t be too liberal — aim for one main subject and one tag in any given post. As journalists, you already know to keep your writing as concise and simple as possible. The same applies to social media.
When you’re citing your source.
Think of this as the social media form of attribution. Tag someone if you quote or
paraphrase them in any way.
When you want to grow your social media account.
Any person or business you tag will see your post in their notifications. There’s a good possibility they will retweet or favorite that post, which makes it available to all of their followers. The more people exposed to your account, the more replies, followers, comments and likes you’ll receive.
This becomes truer when the person you tag has a large following. That’s often why people choose to tag businesses or companies with a substantial fan base.
When you are being paid to.
There are people who are paid to promote products or brands. Usually it’s apparent when a post is sponsored. There will be a coupon code, a glowing review or other obvious indicators. These people, too, are usually professionals or semi-professionals in their fields: athletes, models or social media personalities.
How to tag:

  • On Facebook:
    Tagging people on Facebook is as straightforward as social media gets. Start typing in the name of whoever it is you would like to tag. Their account will pop up in a little gray box beneath your cursor. Click on the pop-up or hit enter and you’re done.
  • On Twitter, Instagram and most other social media:
    Type in the @ sign and their handle. Voilà, they’re tagged.Know the difference between a reply and a mention:
    Twitter has very specific lingo. In the Twitterverse, a mention is when you tag someone in the body of your Tweet (after at least one character, whether it be a space, period, letter or word). It’s called a reply if you tag someone at the beginning of a tweet. A reply is directed specifically toward that person or business. Essentially it’s a digital conversation between two people. Only the sender, recipient and people who follow both accounts will be able to see a reply.
    The same applies on Instagram.
  • If a person doesn’t have a social media account on the platform you’re
    using:
    You have two options. You can turn their name into a hashtag or use their name
    without a tag.Not everything concerning the digital age has to be complicated. So go forth and tag away. Then maybe we can talk about analytics. ♦

— Taylor Wyllie was an OWAA intern and is a student at the University of Montana, studying journalism and environmental studies. She’s worked for the independent student newspaper, The Montana Kaimin and her work has appeared on Montana PBS, Montana Public Radio and in the Missoulian.

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