Matt Haran - Facebook and HashtagsMost of you have probably heard that Facebook recently unveiled the capability for users to enjoy clickable hashtags on their platform, just like Twitter and Instagram. This is a huge step for Facebook, allowing them to better organize public conversation.

The History

Hashtags are words or even phrases that are tagged with the number or pound symbol (#). They are used heavily on Twitter as well as other social media sites as a form of metadata tag.  The first ever hashtag used on Twitter was from Chris Messina in 2007, “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?” The #barcamp hashtag was intended to bundle conversation about the Global Technology Unconference gatherings called Barcamp that Messina helped found. Since then, these hashtags have been selling like #hotcakes…so to speak.

The Haters

The use of hashtagged terms has grown so much in popularity over the years. And, like most things that gain a lot of exposure – the Kardashians, Tan Mom, etc. – there has been some backlash. The use of hashtags on Facebook has even enraged some Facebook users to create a page dedicated to the hatred of hashtags. The page is called, “This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here.” I find this somewhat comical and don’t really see what the fuss is all about, but it seems like the creator of the page is very serious. Users feel as if Facebook is stealing ideas from Twitter, but they are just staying up-to-date with the trends of social media.

How it Works

The way it works is basically just like Twitter, but Facebook can be more private than Twitter. You can either search for, or click on, a hashtag; and when you do so, it brings up a screen with all the recent posts containing that hashtag. However, all of these posts are public posts. If you are not friends with a specific person, their profile posts are only able to be seen by friends.

From a marketing standpoint, it is wiser to allow all Facebook users access to your hashtagged posts. This is a great business and marketing tool, especially when one is trying to gain visibility in a specific market. Your business can also gain the reputation of providing fresh and engaging content when your Facebook page is joining different conversations about a trending topic.

What’s Next in Line

  • Trending Hashtags – Twitter and other social outlets have feeds of trending hashtags but Facebook currently does not.
  • Hashtag Advertising – Advertisers do not have the option to buy Hashtags at the moment, but that is a strong possibility in the near future.