For those of you familiar with twitter or instagram you’ll be familiar with how the hashtag or # works. Essentially it differentiates your conversation thread so that those with an interest in a particular topic can follow what’s being discussed on it.
We covered how hashtags might be used on twitter in a previous blog post for those of you just getting started on twitter. They’re also in use on other social networks such as Instagram or Pinterest so for many this isn’t a totally new idea.
Following rumours which started earlier this year hashtags have now arrived on Facebook too so that we can now follow threads in conversations based around who we share our updates with.
Starting 12th June they will be rolled out to all users and this feature arrived in Ireland 13th June.
Based on previous updates Open Graph which was announced in January and which we’re still waiting for and the updated newsfeed which was announced in March (we got it last week but not everybody has it yet!) it might arrive in other locations at different times.
It’s a positive development for those using Facebook for business but like everything else you will need to think about how best you will use this feature effectively.
So, what essentially will be happening and why should you care?
Those of you who use twitter regularly would be familiar with an update such as this where on this occasion I posted a tweet that I wanted to appear in any threads related to Clontarf, the area I live in;
Where a person has connected their twitter account to their facebook account you might already be familiar with status updates which appear on facebook that would look similar to this? To some they probably never really made sense? In other cases you might have chosen to hide or unfollow?
Well, going forward you can get used to Facebook updates such as this;
In this instance I have inserted the # symbol before the world #hashtag as given the fact it’s topical in social media today it’s a conversation thread that I would like my comment to appear in amongst those who have the feature already.
So how will you use it?
- Use the search box at the top of facebook using a term such as #hashtag or #marketing to search for a thread on hashtags or marketing (not yet available to everybody).
- When you see an update from a page or profile with a # before a word you can click it to view the conversation available to you around this term.
- Where you wish your update to be included in a conversation thread, use the # symbol before the term in your status update which you are sharing.
- Once you have this feature available to your account you will see the phrase you wish to highlight with # available in your update or feed as a clickable link.
And what should you not do?
- Don’t get carried away with the hashtags. On twitter you’ve got 140 characters so most people know to minimise the hashtags in order to keep space free to actually add a comment. With Facebook you’ve got considerably more space available to work with so please do not start updating with posts like this;
And what else do you need to think about?
- Most people have paid some attention to their privacy settings on Facebook but not all. If you haven’t you will find some tips on one of our recent posts on how you can update them.
- If your privacy settings are set to display all of your personal updates i.e. those from your profile, publicly and you decide to include a # in your status update you can potentially find yourself appearing in the public search results too – something you will also need to be mindful of particularly when Open Graph finally rolls out to all users as in that case you will be sharing photos also!
- If you have however set your profile posts i.e. your personal account to sharing updates with friends only, only those who appear on this specific list of your friends will be able to see how your specific comment fits in with others who have shared their posts with them.
Undoubtedly there will be some people who overdo the hashtags but no matter how keen you might be to appear in as many search results as possible, think about the end user and remember that frequently less is more!
You can read the update from Facebook Newsroom by clicking here.
In the meantime, as a marketing company we think this is great news 🙂