Facebook has finally announced that they be launching clickable hashtags on the social media platform, similar to other services such as Pinterest, Instagram,Twitter & tumblr. Hashtags on Facebook will allow users to add context to a post or indicate that’s it’s part of a larger discussion (pretty much the same as all other platforms that use them). When you click on a hashtag, you’ll be taken to a feed of what other people and Pages are saying around that topic…who say’s you have to re-invent the wheel! Facebook have stated that this is just the first step to help people discover what others are saying about specific topics and enables people to participate in public conversations, Twitter watch out ;). Facebook claim they’ll be introducing trending hashtags and deeper insights, that help people discover more conversations.

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Advantages

Integrated Campaigns - One thing I’m looking forward to, from a selfish marketing point, is finally being able to have fully integrated campaigns and tracking it in greater depth but we’ll move on to that in the next point. Hashtags are everywhere now in marketing and we’ve seen some great integrated campaigns in the last 12 months like Dollar Shave BabyOld Spice’s Muscle Music and Nike’s #FindGreatness campaign. Now, with the potential for campaign conversations to happen on Facebook it’s add another element to your marketing campaign. A Facebook spokesperson said  “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.”

Big Data - Brands who are harvesting big data are currently reaping the rewards, whether it be it consumer trends or simply the top topics mentioned it’s now becoming the most important aspect in the social space. With the launch of hashtags on Facebook brands have been given the opportunity to see what consumers are actually talking about. Brands will now be able to see all conversations across all sectors & can tailor their posts based on these. Although you could previously do this on Twitter, transferring these learnings over to Facebook didn’t always make sense.

Take the #WWDC on Monday that took place, Apple were able to analyse all the mentions across Twitter in one place. Within seconds using specific tools they were able to see sentiment and opinions about the conference. Add extra filters with specific keywords and you’ve got consumer perceptions and opinions on every product launched. Now you can do this on Facebook. Take our client Gumtree who get nearly 50+ mentions of the hashtag #Gumtree on Twitter per day. This allows us to analyse the types of ads being shared and categorise users based upon these. Whether this will transfer over to Facebook we have yet to see but the prospect is mouth watering.

Hashtag Ads (not here yet but it’s only a matter of time) - The introduction of hashtags will no doubt pave the way for another paid method of getting your message across to potential fans. Even though Facebook have came out and said that it’s not opening the program up to advertisers, it’ll only be a matter of time! Considering they’ve actually said “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” combined with the fact we know Facebook pretty much try and monetize everything…we give it 6 months before you can pay for ‘Sponsored Hashtags’.

Better 3rd party platform Integration - Probably one of the main reasons for Facebook incorporating the hashtag is for people who syndicate posts across multiple networks. Let us not forget that Facebook bought Instagram, people share their Foursquare updates to Facebook, oh and the annoying people who share their tweets to Facebook (see below)! 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. It’ll be interesting to see if people who syndicate tweets and use #NowPlaying – will this then open the opportunity for Facebook to drive people towards the music services like Spotify.

Facebook Hashtag

Customer Service - Social media disasters usually come with a hashtag and the majority of the time is brand related, therefore brands will now be able to monitor conversations around these. Take #susanalbumparty for example, most likely on purpose but you were able to monitor all conversations around the launch, most be it comical. By using company-specific hashtags or even topical hashtags around common problems, brands can invite people to contact them for help. Since hashtags on Facebook will be public domain, you can now even attract prospective customers who are looking for help related to a problem.

Disadvantages

Dual Screen - If Facebook are trying to win the battle of the dual screen, I think they’re in trouble! No one on Twitter minds if you post 30 times in an hour about a show that you love but everyone hates the person on Facebook who tells the whole world what they’re doing minute by minute…I’ve got a couple of friends who write Facebook updates during rugby games and it annoys the crap of me. Personally, if I was going to pick one platform to improve my experience on the shows that I’m watching it’s going to be Twitter. Anyone who would rather do it on Facebook, please let us know in the comments, it’ll be interesting to hear your thoughts about it! (Just remind me not to send a friend request!)

Over use of irrelevant hashtags - We’ve all seen them on Twitter, #MoviesThatNeverGetOld & #OneDirectionAreBetterThan (my personal favourite!) and there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll find their way over to Facebook. One of my pet peeves, that people do on Twitter, is put a whole sentence or a complete thought into a hashtag…why, why do it, there’s no need! Nothing is more aggravating to me than when a Tweet appears on my feed with complete sentences as a hashtag. We’ve all got on of those Facebook friends who is more than likely to do it, so just be careful and get ready to un-friend people.

Hashtag Hijacking - Jumping into a preexisting conversation about a trending hashtag to promote your product or services is going to come across as tacky. Unless you completely understand the trending topic or can add something of value to the dialogue, stay out of it. Let’s no forget #McDStories.

Tweet Hashtag

Lots of people may think that Facebook are just copying their competitors but from my perspective I’m think “why not?” it’s proven to work on other platforms so why not implement it on Facebook. One thing I’m intrigued/interested to see is if Facebook emulates Google+, in terms or automatically adding a hashtag when you post about certain topics. Just remember, when these do go live (in the UK) there’s two key thing: 1. #Do #Not #Over #Do #It #On #The #Hashtags and 2.#KeepItSimple!