Facebook Hashtags: A Day Late and a Dollar Short
In an effort to ride the wave of Twitter’s hashtag craze, Facebook added the ability to use hashtags in status posts last June. How has that worked out for them? Well, how often do you use hashtags in your Facebook posts, or more importantly, how often do you click on hashtags you see used in other Facebook posts? If you answered never or hardly ever, then you would be among the majority of Facebook users.
That’s right. Hashtags have basically been a flop for the social media giant. In fact, certain research has shown that including hashtags in your posts decreases their viral reach.
Brands are constantly updating content and starting conversations on both platforms, so why are users not interacting with hashtags on Facebook like they do on Twitter? The answer lies in how consumers interact with each platform.
Although Facebook may have millions of conversations taking place at any one moment like Twitter, the platform is designed so those conversations are compartmentalized between friends and fans, whereas a Twitter feed is one long stream of comments, ideas and opinions for any followers to see. For this reason, Twitter users, especially brands, use hashtags to stand out. The more clever or outrageous they are, the better.
Also, Facebook was founded as a “personal” form of social media, encouraging users to post personal content, like pictures and status updates. Facebook users are less likely to start a conversation with a brand when they visited the platform to see pictures of their infant daughter-in-law or brother who is studying abroad. Brand conversations are easier to digest and participate in on Twitter’s platform because the feed moves faster and includes less personal information.
Needless to say, hashtags lend themselves to Twitter’s fast-paced conversation turnover, more so than Facebook’s feed of family’s photo albums and friends’ status updates. My prediction is we’ll see them fizzle out completely within the next year. So, skip creating witty hashtags for your brand’s Facebook page; instead, spend more time posting content like interesting photos and useful news for your fans to engage with and share.