Just in case you’re not sure how they work, hashtags turn words and phrases into clickable links. When a user clicks on a hashtag, it will take them to a list of posts featuring that particular hashtag so they can find similar stories, updates and follow trending topics.
Facebook added hashtags to their network back in June, and since then a number of pros and cons have been noted.
Allows you to include and associate your update with a topic of conversation, as you would with Instagram and Twitter. For instance, if you wanted to tell people more about your location, you could add #Adelaide to your content.
You could develop a hashtag for your business, eg. #AdelaideCoffeeHouse, and encourage your Facebook fans to use the hashtag when they check-in or post about your business. This would allow you to see and reply to content with #AdelaideCoffeeHouse. As your hashtag serves as an online word of mouth tool, it would be a good idea to acknowledge and reward fans who use it.
Using hashtags will be beneficial if you have connected accounts, as the tag will be live across multiple networks, including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
As there have been some months to examine the effect of hashtags on post reach, Edgerank Checker conducted a study and found that the use of hashtags did not increase the organic reach of a post. Further to that, posts without hashtags had more viral reach than those with hashtags. Edgerank Checker’s conclusions to this were that the lack of increase in reach could simply stem from users not clicking on hashtags, especially when they were used in conjunction with promotional content (which often receives less engagement, clicks and therefore, reach).
Facebook’s response to Edgerank Checker’s report pretty much sums up how you should approach the use of social media – with quality content:
“Pages should not expect to get increased distribution (what some call virality) simply by sticking irrelevant hashtags in their posts. The best thing for Pages (that want increased distribution) to do is focus on posting relevant, high quality-content — hashtags or not. Quality, not hashtags, is what our News Feed algorithms look for so that Pages can increase their reach.”
Thus far, Facebook don’t really seem to have put a lot of effort into making hashtags work as well as they do on Twitter. Maybe users aren’t used to it yet and are not sure of what to expect, or maybe they just don’t fit in with Facebook-style conversation. Hopefully Facebook will add a ‘trending topics’ feature to make it easier for users to follow what interests them, and for brands to join in the conversation. Currently, to use hashtags well on Facebook you would need to follow them closely, and as suggested before, follow up with fans that use them.
If you do use hashtags, use them sparingly – #no #one #enjoys #reading #a #sentence #that #looks #like #this. Pick hashtags relevant to your conversation or topic, or even create on specifically for your business or promotion (just check that no one else is using it first!) Again, a custom hashtag would be ideal for use across connected platforms.
Tell us your thoughts, do you use or would consider using hashtags on Facebook? Leave a comment below or join our conversation on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.