As one of the last social media platforms to incorporate hashtags, Facebook rocked the social media marketing community with the release of their own hashtag feature this past summer. Experts had been arguing for a long time that the launch of Facebook hashtag was only a matter of time. We have seen in the past few years that the most popular tools or concepts that are used at one popular social network or social media site is endorsed and made available on another popular social network or social media site. When Facebook hashtag was launched last summer, most people were not surprised. But what many were curious to find out was if Facebook marketing would become easier or more complicated in the process.
For starters, Facebook’s hashtag system operates exactly like those of Instagram and Twitter. A user adds hashtags related to their post by typing a pound sign in front of keywords associated with the post’s content at the bottom. This then links the post to a larger online conversation on the same topic. From there, other Facebook users are able to find their post by searching one or more of the hashtags they added to it. Hashtags are searched by users through Facebook’s standard search bar. For instance, if a user would like to search for posts about web design, they simply type #webdesign in the search bar and browse the results.
Any marketer will tell you, getting a company’s message out via social media is no easy feat. The process requires creating engaging and relevant content on a consistent basis for a long length of time. At the time of their release, Facebook’s hashtags were expected to expedite this time consuming task by making the content posted by a company discoverable by thousands of users who had not already “liked” the company page. While many hoped that this would significantly increase a company’s reach, research has found that Facebook hashtags typically have little to no positive effect on the reach of your posts. In fact, data released by a third party company (EdgeRank) revealed that posts that didn’t include hashtags actually performed better than posts with them in most cases.
Our experience with hashtags wasn’t much different. We found that our posts that included hashtags weren’t reaching any more Facebook users than those without them. To answer the question for this section – no, Facebook hashtags are not an effective tool for your social media marketing plan.
Many analytic reports have been in the public domain which reiterates the same fact. Facebook hashtag is not enhancing the outreach of any post; it is not getting any company or brands any additional exposure and is certainly not getting more likes, comments or fans at the end of the day. While Facebook hashtag is poised to become an ineffective tool in Facebook marketing, the same feature which was introduced much earlier on Twitter has been a phenomenal success.
The reason why Facebook hashtag hasn’t become as effective as the hashtag on Twitter is because they are completely different types of social media sites. Hashtags on Twitter are regularly followed, the site has a dedicated section where one can find hashtags which are popular and people are on the site to consume information, unlike Facebook. People are on Facebook primarily to be with friends and to stay connected with their social connections. It is not a platform to consume information from all around the world. The very basic difference between the two sites seem to be the primary reason why Facebook hashtag is not yet a potent tool while Twitter hashtag has become integral to social media marketing.
Having said that, it would be too premature to write off the Facebook hashtag in regards to Facebook marketing! This is primarily because not many people are yet aware of the feature and it may take some time for people to warm up to the idea. Once they do, the story might have another climax.