Hashtags are a Twitter thing, or rather they were a Twitter thing until Instagram added them too, as did several other services and social networks. Twitter is still king of the hashtag and has them the most deeply integrated among all others, as a tool for making and following trends. The popularity of hashtags is such that they’ve been used even where they don’t ‘work’, i.e. on Facebook. We all have that friend who does it, we all wish they would stop because they’re not doing anything, until now. Facebook has finally given in, and added support for hashtags, meaning any hashtags will now be clickable and searchable on the network. They can be added to status updates as well as photo captions. The question now is, what can I do with the hashtag? Hashtags on Facebook have to be actually used in order to become truly effective on the network, and here are five great ways to start putting them to work right away.
Quick Search From Timelines, Profiles, Pages & The Search Bar
Twitter users who are well versed in the use of a hashtag know that they are an excellent search tool. It’s quite like a user adding their very own keywords to a post, and that means better search results. Hashtags can be used to search for similar public updates either from the search bar, or by simply clicking a hashtag where you see it on a profile page, timeline, or status update.
Hashtags aren’t just a search tool; you can use them to group content like you never could on Twitter. They can be added to any post; this means image captions, events that you create and share, and all updates regarding those events can be grouped together, making it easier to sort these updates the second you post them, and also make them easily searchable for your friends/followers/fans. Take for example an event that you’re planning; you can create a page for it and tag all ideas you might have with a hashtag that describes it. Other organizers who are working on the event can do the same. Once the event is finalized, you can invite people to it and add the same hashtag to your invites, so that even attendants can chime in using the hashtags. When the event is over, or as it is in progress, all parties involved can post updates and photos of it accompanied by the same hashtag. Anyone attending or interested in the event can do a simple search using that same hashtag and find everything they need.
Mixing Hashtags & Mentions For Richer Content
When Facebook added the feature to mention people and pages, it was welcomed by pretty much everyone. Happy or disgruntled consumers quickly found it was a great way to endorse or defame brands they had a pleasant or unpleasant experience with. Posts were also made more informative by mentioning official pages for organizations, or indicating persons of interest that you could follow on Facebook. Hashtags can be used to much the same effect i.e. to enrich your posts. If you’re posting on a popular topic (a trending news item maybe), you can add relevant hashtags that will help users find other people and pages talking about the same thing. Not only that, but the hashtags can also be used to search for and read more about related topics on Facebook.
Branding, Trends & Promotions
Now that hashtags have come to Facebook, it’s not going to be long before trends debut as well. They might be added by Facebook itself, or by third party apps. Regardless, companies will find they can push promotional material in a whole new way using hashtags and at the same time, unite their Facebook and Twitter campaigns. Perhaps the best thing about hashtags for businesses is that they will help create buzz on Facebook much the same way they do on Twitter. Tagging friends and sharing posts from a brand can be made significantly better by adding a hashtag to it.
Cross Posting Between Twitter & Facebook
Your friends posting from Twitter to Facebook is why you would often see hashtags appearing in your News Feed even when they weren’t supported. If you avoided connecting your Twitter account to your Facebook profile because the hashtags were irrelevant there (and it made your friends hate you), you will now be able to do so because Facebook can read the hashtags for what they are. It’s very likely that with people posting from Twitter and Facebook, Twitter trends will spill over, somewhat, to Facebook. You might also be pleased to know that all previous posts with hashtags are in line with this update, so those hashtags are now real and searchable too!
It’s only been a few days since hashtags were added to Facebook and these are just some of the ways to use them. Of course, Facebook can do so much more with them and I do happened to have a wishlist of features. At present, you can search one hashtag at a time; Facebook can easily incorporate search for multiple tags at one. Similarly, I would like to be able to combine the search parameters in Graph Search with hashtags and be able to search a friend’s profile using nothing more than a hashtag.
So, how are you using hashtags on Facebook? Let us know in the comments below.