Facebook officially supports hashtags

hashtag300-204Hashtags were rumored to be coming to Facebook earlier this year, but the site officially announced Wednesday that it has added support for the popular Twitter and Instagram staple. Now whenever a Facebook user puts a hashtag in their status update or comment, it connects it to others talking about the same thing.

For instance if you leave a comment on a post, something like “Go #Spurs!”, you can then click the #Spurs hashtag and see the discussion around the keyword on Facebook. This could be huge for Facebook’s Graph Search, which will now allow users to search by keyword.

Several users have reported that hashtags aren’t linked yet, so it appears that this is a gradual rollout by Facebook.

Facebook announced the news in a blog post Wednesday:

During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook – roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night. The recent “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show. And this year’s Oscars buzz reached an all-time high on Facebook with over 66.5 million interactions, including likes, comments, and posts.

To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.

To bring these conversations more to the forefront, we will be rolling out a series of features that surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics. As a first step, we are beginning to roll out hashtags on Facebook.

However, unlike Twitter, Facebook’s privacy settings make this feature unique. If you have your posts set to friends only (or any other configuration), only those people who are allowed to see it will be able to see your hashtagged post. Clicking on the hashtag will show public posts, as well as posts from your friends who have allowed you to see the post. Privacy settings are respected.

This will also make it so hashtags that are generated from Instagram posts to Facebook will also be viewable.

Here’s what happens when you hashtag something on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 10.44.43 AM

When a hashtag is clicked, either in a comment or a post, users can then see the conversation around this topic in a lightbox window. There is also a status update prompt at the top of the discussion, so users can chime in.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 10.34.51 AM

Previously, with older versions of News Feed, users could search for public posts and posts from friends around a certain topic, such as the Olympics or the NBA Finals. But with the News Feed redesign (and with Graph Search), that function has been phased out. Through hashtags, this could give Facebook a leg up on Google (and Facebook’s quasi-partner Bing) by allowing users to easily search for posts their friends have made.

Users can easily search posts via keyword, so long as they have the hashtag.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 11.05.56 AM

Facebook also sent to Inside Facebook tips for marketers:

  • If you are already using hashtags in an advertising campaign through other channels, you can amplify these campaigns by including your hashtags in Facebook advertising. The same creative best practices on Facebook still apply – compelling copy and photography that is in the brand voice works best.
  • Any hashtags that you use on other platforms that are connected to your Facebook Page will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.
  • Like other Facebook marketing tools, hashtags allow you to join and drive the conversations happening about your business. We recommend you search for and view real-time public conversations and test strategies to drive those conversations using hashtags.
  • Hashtags do not impact your distribution or engagement in News Feed on either desktop or mobile. We recommend you continue to focus on your existing campaigns to drive your most important business objectives.

Readers: Will this encourage you to hashtag more on Facebook?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.



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