Facebook Finally Gets Hashtags: How They Work
Twitter has them. Google+ has them. Instagram has them. Now Facebook has them, too. Hashtags have arrived on Facebook, giving the company a much needed way to tap into the marketing dollars that have been flowing into hashtag-focused campaigns.
Meet Facebook Hashtags
Facebook posted today about the new hashtag support with an overview, saying:
Starting today, hashtags will be clickable on Facebook. Similar to other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, hashtags on Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion. When you click on a hashtag in Facebook, you’ll see a feed of what other people and Pages are saying about that event or topic.
Here is Facebook’s example of how they look:
Making Hashtags & Clicking To New Hashtags Feed
Below is a post I made with one. Anyone who has dealt with hashtags will get the concept easily. You just put the word you want to be a hashtag on its own, with the # symbol as the first part of the word:
When you click on a hashtag, a new overlay window appears showing you matching content:
When you’re in one of these overlay windows — what Facebook calls the “hashtag feed” — you also compose a new post at the top of the window.
Searching For #Hashtags
Ironically, while you still can’t search for posts in Facebook Graph Search, you can search for hashtags. Begin your search with any hashtag word, a word starting with the # symbol:
After you do this, you’ll see any matching hashtags appear with special icon next to them and the word “Hashtag” underneath, to indicate that you’ll be doing a hashtag search. Doing the search provides results in the hashtag feed window.
Hashtags From Instagram & Elsewhere
Hashtags shared by content from other services will also work. For example, an Instagram picture with hashtags with it will have hashtags enabled on Facebook — though clicking a hashtag should still find only matching Facebook content, not Instagram content.
Here’s an example, an Instagram picture I shared to Facebook with hashtags:
When I click on one of those hashtags, I get matching content. But the content isn’t from Instagram. It’s anything posted to Facebook, directly or indirectly, with that hashtag:
Trending Hashtags Are Coming
Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to see what are popular hashtags on Facebook. Even typing words into the search bar beginning with # doesn’t produce any suggestions.
But Facebook says this will change, with “trending topics” coming in a few weeks:
Not at this time, but we will be rolling out trending topics in the coming weeks.
Getting In On The Conversation & Advertiser Dollars
Facebook hashtags have been expected. They should help Facebook better compete for advertising dollars, since hashtags have proven popular with advertisers doing branded campaigns.
For example, hashtags were heavily used in the last Super Bowl. That effectively meant that Twitter got far more mentions than Facebook, since hashtags — in terms of how they were used by advertisers — really only worked for driving conversations on Twitter.
Now Facebook has a way of demonstrating to advertisers and marketers that it, too, can be part of the hashtag conversations they want to build.
Postscript: Search Engine Land corresponding editor Greg Finn isn’t won over. See his story today, Why The New Facebook Hashtags Are #Awkward & #Unnecessary