If you’ve been on Twitter, there’s no doubt that you’ve been greeted by the hashtag symbol, which is basically a simple way for people to search for topics. Hashtags have been much slower to grow on other social networks, but that’s all about to change. With Facebook’s newly launched Graph Search comes Facebook hashtags. Although you’ve been free to use hashtags on the social site, they haven’t had a major effect. Today, these small symbols may be the saving graces of Graph Search.

Graph Search delivers exactly what it promises, and that’s to return search results based on the social graphs of your friends, fans and followers. For the most part, your results will be dominated by those in your social network, but if you want to use the feature for outreach and marketing, then you have the opportunity to do so. This is exactly where hashtags fit into the cycle. They allow you to expand your reach while targeting a specific audience.

Here are three helpful tips when using Facebook hashtags.

1. Don’t Overdo the Number of Hashtags

This trend is already starting, and we’re not sure why. Too much of a good thing can be, well, not so good, so choose a few hashtags you want to focus on and leave it at that. We haven’t seen too much of this on Twitter because there is a 140 character limit, but Facebook leaves room for a small novel. Also steer clear of sensationalized headlines, all caps and exclamation points or false claims. Doing these things will surely annoy many and come off as spammy, defeating your marketing efforts.

2. Be Specific with Keyword Phrases

It may seem logical to go general with your hashtags, but if you stick to broad keyword phrases like #smallbusiness or #marketingcompany, you’re missing an opportunity to make your company shine. Choose hashtags that are personal to you and fit your business’ vision. The ultimate goal of using Facebook hashtags is to be able to search for a few particular keywords and see only your business come up.

3. Target a Particular Audience

Here is some good news: Hashtags work best for small, locally owned businesses. If you have one, you can leverage hashtags to work for your benefit. Think of keywords or keyword phrases that would pertain to your target audience and help them better locate your brand online. You can also coin new hashtag keywords that can be used to market your business within a community. Whether it’s #Newarkcoffeeshops or #studentsinPassaicCounty, there are numerous ways to connect with a particular audience.