Facebook Finally Joins the Hashtag Revolution in 2024

Facebook Hashtags

It‘s official: Facebook has finally embraced the almighty hashtag. In a move that has many social media marketers saying "it‘s about time," the world‘s largest social network announced support for clickable hashtags in June 2024.

While hashtags have been a staple of platforms like Twitter and Instagram for years, Facebook had long resisted the trend. But with the recent launch, Facebook joins the ranks of nearly every major social media player in supporting the use of the # symbol to tag and discover content.

A Brief History of the Hashtag

To fully appreciate the significance of Facebook‘s hashtag launch, it‘s helpful to understand a bit of the history behind this ubiquitous social media symbol.

Hashtags as we know them today first emerged on Twitter in 2007, when developer Chris Messina proposed using the pound sign to group related tweets together. Twitter initially rejected the idea, but the concept quickly caught on with users and became an integral part of the platform.

Over the years, other social networks jumped on the hashtag bandwagon, including:

  • Instagram in 2011
  • Google+ in 2011
  • Pinterest in 2013
  • Tumblr in 2014
  • LinkedIn in 2018
  • TikTok in 2019

Today, hashtags are used by billions of people around the globe to discover content, participate in conversations, and interact with brands. According to recent studies:

  • 12% of social media posts contain at least one hashtag (Sprout Social)
  • Tweets with hashtags get 100% more engagement than those without (Twitter)
  • Instagram posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement (HubSpot)

So why did Facebook hold out for so long? Some speculate that the company didn‘t want to encourage users to leave its platform to explore hashtag-based content on other sites. Others believe Facebook was simply biding its time, waiting to see if hashtags were just a passing fad before making a commitment.

Whatever the reason, there‘s no denying that Facebook is late to the hashtag party. But with over 2 billion monthly active users, the social media giant still has the potential to take hashtags to a whole new level.

How Do Facebook Hashtags Work?

Facebook‘s hashtag implementation is relatively straightforward and will feel familiar to anyone who has used hashtags on other social platforms.

To create a hashtag, simply include the # symbol before a word or phrase (without spaces) within a Facebook post. For example:

"Getting excited for the #TokyoOlympics next month! Which events will you be watching? #sports #summerolympics"

Once posted, the hashtag becomes a clickable link. When a user clicks on the hashtag, they are taken to a feed showing all public posts that have used the same hashtag. This allows users to discover related content and join conversations happening around a particular topic.

Hashtags can be included in various types of Facebook posts, including:

  • Text posts
  • Image posts
  • Video posts
  • Link posts
  • Facebook Stories

However, it‘s important to note that only hashtags used in posts with a "public" privacy setting will be discoverable to everyone. Hashtags used in posts shared with friends or other more limited audiences will only be clickable to those with permission to see the original post.

Benefits for Users

For the average Facebook user, hashtags provide a new way to explore and engage with content on the platform. By clicking on a hashtag, users can instantly access a wealth of posts related to a topic they‘re interested in – even if they don‘t personally know the people or pages behind those posts.

For example, let‘s say you‘re a fan of the TV show Stranger Things. By searching for the hashtag #StrangerThings, you could quickly find:

  • Discussions and reactions to the latest episode
  • Fan art and cosplay shared by other viewers
  • Behind-the-scenes photos and videos from the cast and crew
  • News and rumors about upcoming seasons

Hashtags also make it easy for users to participate in viral challenges, memes, and movements that spread across social media. Recent examples include:

  • The #IceBucketChallenge, which raised over $115 million for ALS research
  • The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, used to organize protests and raise awareness about racial injustice
  • The #MeToo movement, where millions shared stories of sexual harassment and assault

By including relevant hashtags in their own posts, users can join these global conversations and feel more connected to a larger community.

Benefits for Marketers

For businesses and marketers, Facebook‘s adoption of hashtags presents a range of exciting opportunities.

First and foremost, hashtags make it easier for brands to be discovered by new audiences. By including relevant hashtags in posts, businesses can extend the reach of their content beyond their existing follower base and get in front of potential customers who are searching for related topics.

For example, imagine you run a small bakery that specializes in gluten-free desserts. By using hashtags like #glutenfree, #celiacdisease, and #healthybaking in your posts, you could connect with people who are specifically seeking out content related to gluten-free living.

Hashtags can also be a powerful tool for driving engagement and user-generated content campaigns. By creating a unique branded hashtag and encouraging followers to use it when posting about your products or services, you can collect valuable insights and content from your most passionate fans.

Coca-Cola‘s #ShareACoke campaign is a prime example. By printing popular names and phrases on Coke bottles and encouraging customers to share photos with the #ShareACoke hashtag, the company was able to generate a massive amount of buzz and user-generated content across social media.

Finally, hashtags provide a way for businesses to join relevant conversations and establish thought leadership in their industry. By monitoring popular hashtags related to your niche, you can identify opportunities to share your expertise and engage with potential customers or partners.

For example, if you sell marketing software, you might use hashtags like #MarTech, #EmailMarketing, or #SEO to find and participate in discussions about the latest industry trends and best practices.

Best Practices for Using Facebook Hashtags

While hashtags offer a range of benefits, it‘s important to use them strategically to avoid coming across as spammy or inauthentic. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

1. Do Your Research

Before using a hashtag, do a quick search to see how it‘s already being used on Facebook and other social platforms. Make sure the content associated with the hashtag is relevant to your brand and aligns with your messaging.

2. Be Specific

Avoid overly generic hashtags like #love or #photooftheday, which are too broad to drive meaningful engagement. Instead, use hashtags that are specific to your niche or content themes.

3. Create Branded Hashtags

Develop unique hashtags for your brand campaigns and encourage followers to use them when posting about your products or services. Keep them short, memorable, and easy to spell.

4. Mix Popular and Niche Hashtags

Use a combination of popular hashtags to increase visibility and more niche hashtags to connect with a highly targeted audience. For example, a post about a new yoga studio might use both #yoga and #yoganyc.

5. Don‘t Overdo It

Limit the number of hashtags per post to 3-5 to avoid overwhelming your audience. Facebook may penalize posts that use an excessive number of hashtags, viewing them as potential spam.

6. Monitor and Engage

Keep an eye on the conversations happening around your branded hashtags and engage with users who post about your brand. Like and comment on their posts, and consider reposting high-quality user-generated content (with permission).

Do Don‘t
Research hashtags before using them Use overly generic hashtags
Create unique branded hashtags Include too many hashtags per post
Use a mix of popular and niche tags Ignore conversations around your tags
Monitor and engage with tagged posts Use hashtags that don‘t fit your brand

The Future of Facebook Hashtags

Facebook‘s initial hashtag launch is just the tip of the iceberg. The company has big plans to expand its hashtag capabilities over time, with upcoming features like:

  • Trending hashtags
  • Related hashtag suggestions
  • Hashtag analytics for marketers
  • Ability to follow hashtags to see top content in News Feed

We can also expect to see Facebook integrate hashtags more deeply into its advertising products. For example, brands may be able to target ads to people who have engaged with specific hashtags, or sponsor hashtags related to major events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars.

As Facebook continues to refine its hashtag offering, it will be interesting to see how usage and best practices evolve on the platform. Some predict that Facebook could eventually eclipse Twitter and Instagram as the go-to destination for hashtag-based content discovery and engagement.

Others believe that Facebook‘s older demographic and emphasis on real-world connections may limit the widespread adoption of hashtags compared to other platforms. Only time will tell.

Key Takeaways

Regardless of how the future unfolds, there‘s no denying that Facebook‘s embrace of hashtags is a significant development for social media marketers. By understanding how to use hashtags effectively on the platform, brands can expand their reach, drive engagement, and join relevant conversations in their industry.

Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind as you begin incorporating hashtags into your Facebook strategy:

  1. Use hashtags to make your content more discoverable to new audiences.
  2. Create unique branded hashtags to collect user-generated content and drive campaign engagement.
  3. Monitor relevant industry hashtags to identify thought leadership opportunities and engage with potential customers.
  4. Keep an eye out for new hashtag features and best practices as Facebook continues to evolve its offering.
  5. Above all, focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that resonates with your target audience. Hashtags are a tool to amplify great content, not a substitute for it.

Now if you‘ll excuse me, I have some #FacebookMarketing to do. 😉