Facebook users can engage in public conversations by using clickable #hashtags, a move anticipated for a while. With #hashtags, Facebook gives users more flexibility for real-time conversations, and hopes to compete with the likes of Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
Originally created by Twitter users, hashtags are now part of the social sharing culture, and work the same on all networks that enable them. As such, hashtags on Facebook allow users to:
- Search for a specific hashtag from your search bar. For example, #NBAFinals.
- Click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest.
- Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.
Facebook spent a lot of time testing hashtags in its photo sharing service, Instagram, but failed to offer its users an easy way to track real-time conversations till now. Facebook also announced that hashtags are just the first in a series of features that make some of the most interesting discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics easier to find and follow. In the near future, Faceboook will also roll out trending hashtags and deeper insights.
Like everything on Facebook, users can control which hashtags are public and which private, by selecting the audience for a post. Clicking on a hashtag brings up a list of related conversations from people and pages you follow, as well as public updates from pages you don’t follow.
With #hashtags live, marketers can now target broader audiences on Facebook, boost advertising campaigns, and more. Here’s how hashtags can help businesses already, according to Facebook Studio.
How to Use #hashtags on Facebook
- Marketers already using hashtags in advertising campaigns through other channels, can now amplify them by including hashtags in Facebook advertising as well. Marketers need to respect Facebook’s creative best practices that already apply for advertising pages, posts and photography.
- Hashtags will also work for users cross-posting updates from Twitter and other networks on Facebook, becoming automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook. This means broader reach for your messages.
- Hashtags also allow marketers to join and drive the conversations about their business, products and brand. Facebook encourages users to search for and view real-time public conversations and test strategies to drive those conversations using hashtags.
- Right now, hashtags do not impact distribution or engagement in News Feed on either desktop or mobile. Marketers are advised to continue to focus on their existing campaigns to drive the most important business objectives.
In the following months, Facebook will release more tools, including trending hashtags and hashtags insights to enable marketers garner data about their reach, and help integrating them more effectively in Facebook advertising strategies.
Before Facebook users become more accustomed with the use of hashtags on the social network, some of the best practices defined by Twitter may apply:
- Centralize usage around one hashtag. Messages containing too many hashtags are confusing, and “spread thin” according to Twitter’s best practices.
- Use obvious hashtags. As an example, the American version of X-Factor used #xfusa as their official hashtags, but fans on Twitter used #xfactor five times more than #xfusa. The show producers were listening, and changed the official hashtag to #xfactor to please their fans.
- Use hashtags creatively – a good example are the mad-lib hashtags, defined as a hashtag that goes at the beginning of a post that starts a sentence a user can then finish.
The list could go on, and you can include advice like avoid #hashtag spamming, avoid sensationalism, etc.. Although Facebook doesn’t bring much new, yet, by introducing hashtags, the iconic Twitter marker, with insights the social network will offer added value for marketers. Still in their infancy, hashtags on Facebook will be adopted quickly and will stimulate conversations between users and brands around issues of common concern.