Facebook officially launched their long-rumored support of #hashtags. While hashtags had always been a tool for discovery and conversation on Twitter, these tools now make Facebook a much more robust platform for discovering shared trends and interests amongst your connections. Simply put, this feature makes the need to leave Facebook, far less appealing.
When Facebook launched their News Feed redesign in March, they made it clear that the filtered feed options were to help users discover more of the things they cared about. This same concept applies to the rollout of #hashtags as posts that include a clickable #hashtag will now open up a new “page” featuring additional posts and conversations around that #hashtag. This is very similar to the old Facebook search function of “search all public posts” except it now honors a user’s privacy settings. Though Facebook has stated that this initial rollout does not include a “trending” topic section, this feature could be something in the future. Additionally, Facebook is expected to rollout a revamped version of Notes as more of a Tumblr-esque blog platform, this could further expand the use and need for #hashtags as a discovery piece to the overall Facebook ecosystem. This is definitely the start of something big.
How Facebook #hashtags work:
Facebook #hashtags will appear as clickable links in desktop posts. Engaging with the #hashtag will open a separate feed that collates conversations from Pages and people who have used the same #hashtag. Additionally, users can find posts related to specific topics or interests by searching on Facebook for relevant #hashtags. Some other key points:
- #Hashtags will now be hyperlinked to a “page” with a history, and a “status update” window to join the conversation.
- #Hashtags when clicked in the newsfeed will create an “overlay”, but the URL generated can be used for direct linking: www.facebook.com/hashtag/Edelman
- #Hashtags do not impact the distribution of content on Facebook’s news feed algorithm, but have the potential to increase engagement and discovery.
- You do not have to create #hashtag pages on Facebook; Facebook will automatically go through every page’s history to determine the links.
- #Hashtag results include posts that are first related to your friend graph, but then show public results from pages and people.
- #Hashtags currently are only clickable on desktop, not mobile.
- #Hashtags do not change your current privacy settings so if your posts can only be seen by friends, then your posts with #hashtags would also only be seen by friends.
- #Hashtags combine platforms: If you are currently using a #hashtag for a campaign, whether on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, that #hashtag campaign will work on Facebook. Any #hashtags that are posted through linked third party sites will automatically populate on Facebook.
- Don’t go #hashtagging everything (yet): #Hashtags to this point have been primarily on Twitter and Facebook communities may not understand their usage right away when they appear on Facebook. With this feature only being rolled out to a small percentage of users at this time, we recommend waiting until there is more widespread adoption before implementing a Facebook #hashtag strategy in your content plan.
- Potential for increased engagement: Just as it is on Twitter, being part of a relevant and current #hashtag conversation on Facebook could have the potential to increase engagement. Brands can leverage #hashtags to create real-time content and stay relevant in conversation. Content can be adjusted based on what people are saying in reference to #hashtags for specific events, brands or announcements.
- Significant SEO implications: Currently, when a user searches a #hashtag for a brand, Twitter results will be the first ones shown. The inclusion of #hashtags on Facebook could lead to more traffic on a branded Facebook properties as well. This is especially important for entertainment brands or those with TV advertisement integration in their #hashtag campaigns.
- Impact on entertainment brands: A recent Nielsen survey found that 29 percent of respondents post on Facebook about TV shows. The inclusion of #hashtags on the Facebook platform will make it easier for viewers to interact with other conversations about specific shows.
- Conversation and listening reporting and analytics: Insights and trending topics are not yet available, but Facebook expects to roll out more updates to the product in the near future.
Adam Hirsch, SVP of Emerging Media and Technology, and Erin Shea, VP of Edelman Digital in Chicago, contributed to this post.
Image by Alan Levine.