A few weeks ago, Facebook unveiled the ability to tag, or electronically connect, friends and other Facebook users in your status updates, notes and such using the “@” sign before their name. As you start typing the name, the list of friends comes up, just like they would if you were addressing an email to them, and their name then magically becomes hyperlinked to their profile page. The same works for group or pages you’re a member or fan of.

Tagged - Photo by Lasse Kristensen on Shutterstock.comWhile some where all a Twitter about the move because the “@” function is a straight rip-off of similar functionality on Twitter, that fact is of minimal importance. No one owns the “@” sign. What’s important is that Facebook has expanded the ability for you to connect with your friends, fans or followers more frequently.

For a business, this can allow you to stay more top of mind with your friends or fans. When you tag someone, they receive a notification you’ve done so and, thus, come see what you tagged them in. This is potentially very powerful for businesses. As the administrator of a fan page, when you tag someone in a wall post or note, it appears to them as if the business or organization tagged them, not the individual logged in to administer the account.

(NOTE: The catch is that you can only tag those who are your Facebook friends as well. If someone is a fan of your business, but not a friend of yours on the network, you won’t be able to tag them. As a result, you’ll have to think through having a professional account for yourself that you use to friend people who are fans of your brand. Some may not feel comfortable friending someone from the brand as well, but some probably will.)

However, there are some best practices to consider when tagging others on Facebook so that you, or your business or organization, doesn’t abuse the ability and upset your fans. Here is my list of five best practices for tagging in Facebook.

Five Rules For Facebook Tagging For Business

  1. Only tag people who will find the information you’re posting relevant. Throwing up a coupon and tagging all your friends is spammy. Use your update or email marketing features for that. Use tagging when you mention one of your Facebook friends showed up at your event and you were glad they came. It sends a personal “thank you” in a public way and allows them to see that you appreciate them.
  2. Don’t tag the same people all the time. Just like blasting messages via email, when you get into copy and paste procedures, you become spam-like and annoying. Make sure you follow rule number one, but mix it up and tag different people in different messages, pictures or notes.
  3. Set your notifications appropriately. The first thing most people noticed when the tagging feature was added is they started getting notifications of not just being tagged, but when anyone else responded to the item you were tagged in. Change those email notifications to get the exact information you want from Facebook and one that you don’t want or don’t need.
  4. Be sensitive to your customer’s wishes. I would only recommend tagging people you have a great relationship with an know won’t mind you connecting them with your brand publicly. Your best friends … fans … advocates. Tagging a new person who has joined your Fan Page in a note or status update can seem a bit creepy if they haven’t had a chance to get to know you yet.
  5. Encourage your employees, friends, followers and fans to tag your fan page when mentioning you on Facebook. It’s a simple act (just hit @ followed by your brand name or page name, then select) that places a link to your page or group in their updates. I would recommend, however, you ask in a way that is subtle and implies that you’d appreciate the gesture but it certainly isn’t required. Don’t worry. They’ll share the love if they really love you.

I’d love to hear more about how you’re tagging folks and if you even like the new abilities. My friend Paul Marobella pointed out there’s no tagging functionality yet on the Facebook iPhone app. I’m sure that will come in an update soon, though. Jump in the comments and let me know what you think. Or, practice and tag me with a note on Facebook.

IMAGE: Photo by Lasse Kristensen on Shutterstock.com.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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