Introduction

In the strictest definition, a “tag” is something you add to a Facebook post when something is done WITH one or more of your Facebook friends. For example, if you and a few friends go out to lunch, one friend can write a post about the experience and tag the other friends in it. This normally results in the post being visible on each person’s profile page, as well as in the News Feeds of each person’s Facebook friends.

For different purposes, when you want to make a reference to a person, business, or other entity as a clickable link, that is technically called a “mention.” Mentions are for when a post or comment is ABOUT a person or entity, as opposed to WITH them.

Tag = With
Mention = About

It’s important to understand the difference between tagging and mentioning if one is to understand the rules and limitations of each function. Keep in mind, though, that both functions are now generally called “tagging,” and that even Facebook calls it all “tagging” in some settings panels and documentation. (The Facebook Activity Log and Notifications are both exceptions in that they separately note instances of “tags” and “mentions.”)

If the above introduction makes some sense, it will be easier to understand the following facts related to tags/ mentions/ generating clickable links to people or entities on Facebook.

 

Facts About Tags

  • If you click the “Tag People” option when you write a Facebook post, you can only choose among your Facebook friends to tag – nobody else, and no Pages.

tag people button

  • If you upload a photo, however, and then click “edit” on the photo, you will have the option to tag any person on Facebook (whether they are a Facebook friend or not) or any Facebook Page (whether you’ve Liked the Page or not). They will then be tagged in the photo itself, not the post as a whole. (Limitations to this feature include when the person being tagged is under 18 years of age, and when a Facebook Page has disallowed tagging.)

tag photo option in facebook

  • You can also decide to tag someone in a post or photo after you publish it, or they can tag themselves.
  • Anyone can choose to untag themselves at any time through their Activity Log.
  • When you tag someone, you can choose whether to extend the post’s reach to all of their Facebook friends or not. (See this feature by going to audience selection options and then choosing “custom.”)

friends of tagged checkbox

Facts About Mentions (a different story)

  • Any person can mention any other person or Page on Facebook, whether the person is a friend or not, or whether they’ve Liked a Facebook Page or not. This will normally generate a clickable link.
  • If the clickable link is not generated, it is most likely for one of the following reasons:
    • The person mentioned is under 18 years old
    • The person mentioned has blocked the person doing the mentioning
    • The Facebook Page has disallowed it (Pages can disallow, people can’t)
    • The name of the person or Page mentioned is not added correctly (See below, Getting the Name Right)

Getting the Name Right

  • Sometimes, you can simply start typing the name of a person or a Page and auto-suggestions will appear for generating the link. (It helps to capitalize the first letter of names.)
  • If that isn’t working, try adding the “@” symbol, followed by the slug from the person’s or Page’s URL.

URL slug of coca cola's facebook page

  • In the case of a Page, the “@” symbol followed by the *username of the Page should do the trick. (If it doesn’t, the Page has probably disallowed tagging in its settings.)

username of coca cola facebook page

* The username of a Facebook Page can normally be seen on the top of the Page, just below the Page name. The username will also be the same as the URL slug of the Page. (For example, www.Facebook.com/mypageusername.) To have a username, the Page owner must create it. Otherwise there won’t be one. (Usernames are only features of Pages, not profiles, i.e., your personal side.)

 

What Does Tagging Accomplish?

  • Timeline Visibility — Tagging a person (or multiple people) in a post or photo can cause the item to be viewable on the timelines of those tagged, which means their Facebook friends can see it when looking at their profile page. (Whether this works can depend on the settings choices for those being tagged.)
  • Extended Audience — Tagging a person (or multiple people) in a post or photo can cause the item’s visibility to be extended to each person’s Facebook friends when those friends read their News Feed. (In other words, it can get pushed out as if they are posting it to their friends themselves.)
    • The person tagging can choose not to extend the audience to the friends of those tagged.
    • Whether or not this works can depend on the settings choices for those being tagged.
  • Profile Photos Visibility — Tagging people in photos can cause those photos to be visible in the “Photos” section of their profile page. (Whether or not this works can depend on the settings choices for those being tagged.)
  • Clickable Links — Tagging can create a clickable link to the profile or Page that’s being tagged.
  • Collective Wording – A photo or post with tags will say something like, “Tony was with Joe.”
  • Notifications — Tagging results in a notification being sent to the person or Page to inform them of the tag (unless someone changed the default notification settings for tags).
  • Page Visibility – (See below, Others Tagging and Mentioning Your Page)

What Does Mentioning Accomplish?

  • Clickable Links — Mentioning can generate a clickable link to the profile or Page that’s being mentioned.
  • Notifications — Mentioning normally results in a notification being sent to the person or Page to inform them of the mention (depending on the settings choices for the person or Page ).
  • Profile Visibility — If you’re mentioned in a post or comment, it doesn’t show on your timeline by default or to your Facebook friends. You can choose to make it visible on your profile by using settings in your Activity Log.
  • Page Visibility – (See below, Others Tagging and Mentioning Your Page)

Limiting and Removing Tags and Mentions from Others

  • As stated above, anyone can untag themself at any time through their Activity Log.

Place where tag can be removed in activity log

  • If you block a person who tagged you, it will remove the tag and prevent them from contacting you again on Facebook.
  • The anchor text of a mention in a post or comment, such as “Jim Jones Auto Repair” (Page) or “Linda Sue Northam” (profile/person) can’t be removed, except by the person who created it, or perhaps by someone who has editorial control (such as the admin of a Facebook group or Page where it’s posted). The clickable link function of the mention, however, can be removed by the person (if it’s a person) or an admin of the Page (if it’s a Page) that was mentioned via the Activity Log interface.
  • Profiles (meaning your personal Facebook) have two tools for controlling the effects of when others tag them and when others place tags in the comments of their posts. They are called Timeline Review and Tag Review. (See more below under Settings & Tools.)
  • Facebook Pages have the option to allow or disallow all tagging (meaning mention links, photo tags, or video tags). (See more below under Settings & Tools.)

Tagging and Mentioning as Your Page

  • When creating a post on your Facebook Page, the “Tag People” option is not available as it for personal posts.
  • If you upload a photo, however, and then click “edit” on the photo, you will have the option to tag any person or Page on Facebook. (As long as the person is over 18 years of age, or the Page has not disallowed tagging for photos.)
  • You can mention any person or any Page as a clickable link in a post or comment (with the same exceptions mentioned above).
  • You can tag other Pages in your Page’s photos if the Page has allowed others to tag it.

Others Tagging and Mentioning Your Page

As mentioned above, Page owners might have the option to create a “username,” which can be helpful when people want to tag your Page. It always begins with the “@” symbol, and it correlates to the URL slug of your Facebook Page. (When the username is created, the URL slug changes to match it.)

When someone mentions your Page or tags your Page in a photo, it can be viewed in the Page’s Activity Log. There, you can choose to leave the default settings (which simply leaves the tag/link intact) or select from the following options:

  • Allow on Page — Which means viewers of your Page can see it when they visit
  • Remove Tag — Which will disable the link created by the mention (The text of the mention will remain intact, though.)
  • Report Tag — If you feel like the mention was applied for improper reasons
  • Ban from Page — Which will prevent the person who mentioned from being able to do again (in clickable link form, anyway)

Face Recognition Tagging

(Update: Meta/Facebook has now discontinued the use of facial recognition technology)

Face Recognition is a technology that analyzes photos and videos you’re in to calculate a unique number, called a “template.” When your face recognition setting is on, your template is used to identify and recognize you in other photos and videos. Facebook claims that this technology has the following three benefits:

  • You’ll get notified about photos you’re in but haven’t been tagged in.
  • You’ll get protection against someone using your photo to impersonate you.
  • People with visual impairments can be told when you’re in a photo or video through a screen reader.

If your face recognition setting is on, Facebook will suggest to others that you be tagged when you are recognized in a photo. (There was a time when Facebook would use this to automatically tag people, but it appears that they stopped doing this for legal reasons.)

 

Tagging Videos

When you upload a video to make a post from your profile, the “tag people” option is available. You can tag any of your Facebook friends. When uploading a video to my business Page, I don’t see any way to add tags to people or other entities at this time. (Of course, anyone or any Page can be mentioned anywhere.)

 

Settings and Tools — Profile (Your personal side of Facebook)

In the Settings panel of your Facebook profile, here are some options that appear (at the time of this writing):

  • Who can see the posts you’re tagged in on your profile? (Options include: friends, friends of friends, everyone, specific friends, and more)
  • When you’re tagged in a post, who do you want to add to the audience of the post if they can’t already see it? (Options include: friends, only me, and custom)
  • Timeline Review – Review posts you’re tagged in before the post appears on your profile? (On or off)
  • Tag Review – Review tags people add to your posts before the tag appears on Facebook? (On or off)

Go to your Activity Log in your profile settings to see a log of all Facebook activity related to your account, including these features:

  • Activity you’re tagged in
    • Posts and comments you’re tagged or mentioned in
    • Photos you’re tagged in
  • Timeline photo and tag review
    • Review posts you’re tagged or mentioned in (a.k.a., Timeline Review)
    • Review photos you might be in (from Face Recognition)
    • Review tags on your posts (a.k.a., Tag Review)

Set your notifications related to tags in your profile settings.

  • Get notifications when you’re tagged by… (Options are: friends, friends of friends, or anyone)
  • Where you receive these notifications (Choose on/off for each option: push, email, or SMS text)

Remember that when you tag someone in a post, you can choose whether or not to extend the audience to the friends of those tagged.

 

Settings and Tools — Pages

In the Settings panel of your Facebook Page, there are these two checkboxes.

  • Allow others to tag photos and videos published by this Page.
  • Allow people and other pages to tag this Page.

Go to your Activity Log in your Page settings to see a log of all Facebook activity related to your Page, including these features:

  • Posts that your Page is tagged or mentioned in.
  • For each tag or mention, you can choose from the following options (or simply leave the default settings intact).
    • Allow on Page — Which means viewers of your Page can see it when they visit
    • Remove Tag — Which will disable the link created by the mention (The text of the mention will remain intact, though.)
    • Report Tag — If you feel like the mention was applied for improper reasons
    • Ban from Page — Which will prevent the person who mentioned from being able to do again (in clickable link form, anyway)

Set your notifications related to tags of your Facebook Page. Currently, the following is the only option showing.

  • Get notifications when there is a new Page mention (Options are on/off)

Solving Problems (Common Issues)

“I’m trying to add a mention with a link and it isn’t working.”

  • Is it a person who’s under 18 years of age?
  • Is it possible that this person blocked you?
  • Does the Facebook Page allow tagging? (Pages can disallow all tagging)
  • Are you adding the name correctly? (See above, Getting the Name Right)

“I tagged someone, but the post or picture is not showing on their profile.”

  • Does the person have Timeline Review or Tag Review turned on? This would mean they need to approve the tag before it shows on their profile.
  • See more settings above under Settings and Tools (for profiles)

“I tagged someone but the post or picture is not showing to their Facebook friends.”

  • Does the person have Timeline Review or Tag Review turned on? This would mean they need to approve the tag before it shows to their Facebook friends.
  • When you created the post and chose the audience, did you opt to include the friends of those tagged?

“Someone is tagging me too much.”

  • Turn on Timeline Review so that tags don’t become live unless you approve them.
  • Consider blocking the person.

“People tell me they are unable to tag me.”

  • Do you have Timeline Review turned on? If so, tags won’t be live unless you approve them.
  • Are they adding your name correctly? (See above, Getting the Name Right)

“People tell me that they are unable to tag my Facebook Page.”

“I’m not getting notifications when someone tags or mentions me (or my Page).”

“People that I don’t know are tagging me.”

  • Turn on Timeline Review so that the tags won’t be live without your approval.
  • Consider blocking those people on Facebook.

Tagging Etiquette

Tagging can be a very useful way of sharing information on Facebook, but it can also have negative repercussions. Just like many other types of tools, there’s a right and wrong way to use it. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for tagging:

DO:

  • Consider tagging as a polite and courteous way to give acknowledgment or show appreciation.
  • Think about how the tag might come across when the content is seen on someone else’s profile or when seen by friends of the person tagged.
  • Realize that a tag can create more exposure for someone (which is not always wanted).

DON’T:

  • Use tagging for selfish purposes, such as an easy way to get seen by more people.
  • Tag people you that don’t know.
  • Tag that you were with someone when you weren’t. (That’s how it will be displayed if you click “Tag People” when creating your post.)

The Top 12 Best Tagging Tips

  1. Although the word “tagging” is used loosely to describe linking, it’s important to understand that the term is sometimes used strictly to mean when activities are done WITH someone.
  2. In strict parlance, when a reference is made ABOUT someone, that’s considered a “mention.”
  3. When you click the “Tag People” option on a post, you can only choose among your Facebook friends.
  4. When you upload a photo and click “edit” on the photo, you can usually tag any person or Page on Facebook, whether you have a connection with them or not. (Some exceptions apply, see above)
  5. Anyone can @mention anyone or anything anywhere. If the name is placed correctly, it will normally generate a clickable link. (Some exceptions apply, see above.)
  6. Profiles, meaning your personal side of Facebook, can use features to keep tags hidden until approved. (See Timeline Review and Tag Review.)
  7. Pages have the option to disallow tagging altogether.
  8. For a link to be generated in a mention, make sure you’re getting the name right. Starting names with capital letters can help, but you might need to put the “@” symbol followed by the slug from the person’s or Page’s URL. (See more above, Getting the Name Right)
  9. When you tag a post with the “Tag People” option, you can choose whether or not you’d like the post’s visibility to be extended to all of the friends of the person being tagged.
  10. Your Activity Log for your profile or Page is where you can see all past activity, including tags. You can take actions there that affect the tag’s visibility. (Notice the Activity Log distinguishes tags vs. mentions.)
  11. You can always untag yourself or your Page at any time through your Activity Log.
  12. Tag for the right reasons. Consider if the person or Page would want to be tagged.

In Closing

It has taken 30+ hours of work to create this article. It was intended to be a fairly comprehensive guide to the mechanics of tagging on Facebook, but I realize now that it would be practically impossible (at least for me) to accomplish. The reason is that — in the most general sense — “tagging” means to create links from one thing to another thing within the Facebook ecosystem. And that ecosystem is full of people as well as many different types of special-purpose entities. Also, it’s continuously growing and changing — seemingly on a daily basis.

The mechanics of tagging depend on:

  • Who’s doing the tag (a person, a Page?)
  • Who or what is being tagged (a person, a Page, an event, a location, a photo, a product, a story, etc.?)
  • How the name is being added
  • Where the tag is being created (in a post, comment, profile, Page, group, event, etc.?)
  • What the tag is actually attached to from the sender’s side (a post, specific text/wording, an image, a video, etc.?)
  • Whether there is something in place to prevent the tag/link from being generated? (Such as age restriction, profile settings, Page settings, etc.)

This was my best effort to give specific knowledge and tips, as well as to help put the subject of tagging in some perspective. I hope it was helpful to you.

I would love to hear your comments. If you’d like to share any facts that I’m missing or help me correct any errors, I’d appreciate that.

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