Those of you who are long time Twitter users, or who use other hashtag enabled systems like Instagram, are probably already in the habit of using hashtags to make your content easier for people to discover. However, now that hashtag functionality has been added to the world’s biggest social network, Facebook, is it likely to change the way we use it to interact with each other, or to market our businesses, products and services in terms of social media? Let’s talk about Facebook hashtags in detail.
How Hashtags Work
In case you haven’t used Twitter, it is probably best to start by explaining what hashtags are. They are simple keywords in a format that starts with a ‘hash’ symbol (or as the Americans for some reason call it, a ‘pound sign’, even though it looks like this ‘#’, rather than the symbol for a British pound!), has no spaces, and can be created on the fly. This means if you are writing a tweet about something popular, for example if you are watching Game Of Thrones and tweeting about it, you might use an existing hashtag like ‘#gameofthrones’ somewhere in your tweet. This will appear as a link in the tweet, and people who click on it will see a list of all the other tweets talking about that subject. It is a great way to discover new people and content relating to something you are interested in or which is currently topical. You can also create your own hashtags, for example your company name, and hope that other people start using them too!
But Are They Useful on Facebook?
It is likely that one of the main reasons Facebook added hashtag functionality is that a lot of people use automated systems that put the same content they write for their Twitter feed on their Facebook status, and this looked kind of silly when there were Facebook posts full of hashtags that didn’t do anything. While hashtags can make it easier to sort out what your friends are talking about if you have lots of connections on Facebook, when it comes to normal interactions between individual users the hashtags don’t add that much. This is because Facebook tends to be used to interact with people you already know, and most people aren’t trying to find content written by people outside of their social circles.
However, when it comes to business pages, if searching on hashtags inside of Facebook catches on, it could become quite powerful. It would allow people to easily find businesses they aren’t yet acquainted with but who offer things that they are interested in. For this reason, while you can probably forgo endless hashtags in your status updates to your friends, if you have a company page it is probably good to get in the habit of hashtagging right away! Whether the user community as a whole adopts hashtag searching in the same way as Twitter’s has remains to be seen, but anything that helps users find your business can’t hurt!
Social media marketing specialist Adam Livermore is head of marketing at web consultancy Consult 3, a company that works with companies in all different niches to help them leverage the promotional benefits of social networks, along with other internet marketing practices like search engine optimisation (SEO).