In June 2013, Facebook introduced hashtags. They copied it the way it works on Twitter with slight modification. It caught lot of excitement initially among people who knew how it works but eventually there are more questions to it than answers.
#Tag on Facebook seems to have lost the excitement too early. Facebook and twitter are two different platforms in design and use. So let’s take a closer look at Do hashtags work on Facebook.
How to use Hashtags on Facebook?
Use of # symbol (hashtag)before a word or phrase turns it into clickable link. This helps people read about posts on similar topic or phrase. Example – if I run a tourism business, my post on a travel package could be something like-
Enjoy #luxurious travel packages for Singapore starting $6000
When you click on a hashtag, you will see posts, which include this hashtag. You can also search for a hashtag by #word on the search bar of any Facebook page. A user may switch hashtag search by simply changing the URL.
In the Facebook url – http://www.facebook.com/hashtag/luxurious – change the last word on url to Singapore, This will take the user to Singapore hashtage page of Facebook. To make the Phrase hashtag more readable you may capitalize the first alphabet – like #DeliciousFood.
Facebook hashtag performance-
Its now been one full year, that Facebook has completed its implementation of hashtags in the posts. Assumption at the time of launch was that if people see an object in their news feed with hashtag of a topic they are interested in, they will be more willing to discover about that topic. Since Facebook had object advantage on its side, So there were high chances of it gaining popularity.
It was expected that brands that talk about trending hashtags in their posts, may get extra exposure because of other pages using same hashtag and their brand may show up unexpectedly.
There was a need to do a pilot check and compare posts with hashtag to reach a conclusion of success or failure of Facebook hastags. Edgerank checker has done comparison in their blog, which highlights that post with hashtag on facebook actually have lesser chances of getting viral as compared to post without hashtags.
In whichever way they tallied the data to make statistics, the reality is that Facebook hashtags have not done much for its users. In the same post they have done a comparison which shows that use of hashtag in twitter helps it to gain viral exposure.
Biggest Reason for #Fail on Facebook
#Tag as evolved on Twitter, addressed an easy solution to a complex problem : How do you get unknown people to communicate with each other and discuss on an topic? Chris Messina, founder of hashtags on twitter , wrote about the above complex problem, with many other compelling needs in his blog post way back in 2007.
Facebook decided to take a different route by selecting to do this through a complex news feed algorithm, that has thousands of weights. As a result of tight control over who sees what in his news feed, users are conditioned not to seek out for additional information, but rather receive information passively.
Hashtags work good for discovery and not connecting with your friends
Hashtags are success in Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr as their entire purpose is to discover people, who want to discuss on common topic and reach out to people of common interest regardless of personal connection.
Nature of Discussion topics in Facebook & Twitter–
Discussion on twitter carries on relevant topic , irrespective of any affinity with the people on discussion forum. Facebook by its design does not work on lines of “carry on related conversations”. While Twitter allows strangers to discuss on common topic with each other, which is not possible in Facebook.
Facebook on the other hand has evolved to a platform to connect with family and friends in a controlled environment.
If you are set to use hashtag for Facebook, then there are certain best practices to follow–
Stay focused with purpose
If you are a brand that is promoting live event or you are a news station breaking real time news. You should remind users how to use hashtags( it may seem obvious but lot of facebook users don’t use twitter). Remind fans that they can click on the link and get live update of the event. Also encourage fans to use the hashtag link to update their status too.
A hashtag that adds no value to the post, will get no benefit. If you are a University, then using #college or #management or # university is too general to be used on facebook. If University has won some award,then hashtags for such events can be created on which fans can contribute and it evolves as discussion platform by alumni and all the fans.
Try it – If you haven’t tried using hashtags on Facebook, You must try. There are no rules to the game. If there are 100 articles that suggest – Don’t use hashtag on Facebook, Give it your best attempt by staying focused on deliverables, If you see some value, then there is a success story and of course experience teaches a lot, may be this experience will someday help in using hashtags on twitter better And Answer this question for yourself- Do hashtags work on Facebook.