To tag or not to tag? that is the question. What are all these Facebook Hashtags doing? and are people getting silly with there use of them? All these questions and more answered.
So Facebook have moved on the hashtag fad, that first came to light via Twitter. In the past I have written a few articles about the waste of time these hashtags are, pointing out that a search on twitter doesn’t matter if the # is there or not, the search still works. But they continue to be used, I don’t mind it so much these days, on Twitter or Instagram anyway. They do actually create a bit of a buzz around the particular keyword.
So what is a hashtag? Simple, it’s a keyword, or at least that’s what its was created as. You can use the hashtag to highlight or accentuate the topic you are discussing. Used correctly they are a good way to build brand or get your topic out there. But used in excess just look silly, and some of the tags that are coming along are down right ridiculous. I mean really, do you think people are going to search Twitter (or Facebook) for some of those strings? No of course not, all you achieve is reducing the quality of posts in what I would recommend a maximum of 90 characters (to allow for better re-tweeting). Enough of Twitter, this is about Facebook.
Have Facebook just jumped on the Twitter bandwagon? I mean after all they use them in Instagram. No they haven’t; a few reasons that Facebook has moved into hashtags, and in principle some good reasons.
1. The new Graph Search on Facebook allows a search of Hash Tags, so in short you can search for “posts by friends of mine about #portdouglas” and it will bring up the results of posts tagged #portdouglas. This is a very good step!
2. The use of hash tags on a post highlight the topic. In other words, as we scour through our constantly growing feed on Facebook we are reduced to only scanning (albeit subliminally) and the use of the # merely brings it to the front of our attention.
3. Corporate branding, a great way to aid in your corporate branding is to use a hashtag on occasional posts, making it easier for potential customers to find you via certain hash tags, mainly your brand name, or relevant keyword to your product.
4. This is the most important! Facebook is profiling you! Yes I know, conspiracy theory! But they are, and actually have been all along, haven’t you ever wondered why the ads are relevant to your interests? Well what they are doing now is collating more information about you. If you use hashtags they will be able to get a better feel for your interests, hobbies passions etc. In order to gain better profiles of Facebook users.
More on this – In my view Facebook WILL become a major advertising platform. To date, we are not seeing this, most corporates agree that Facebook advertising doesn’t yield results (apart from these Fat-cats not understanding the purpose of Facebook) and this is true to a point. However, can you think of ANY platform that allows you to target your potential customer base as well as Facebook, No you can’t! Google works on keywords, via an algorithm designed by Google. Facebook promotes to its users via an algorithm built by you, the user courtesy of your posts. Hello!
As Facebook comes up with more and more ways to build your online profile they will get more and more data so as to be able to advertise directly to the relevant market. So think of that from an advertisers perspective. Going forward an advertiser will not only be able to target their ads to relevant potential customers, but they will have the ability of fine tuning that so much that they will be able to find who might be looking to buy a “specialized bike helmet” today, because Facebook are constantly building user profiles.
Whats this got to do with hashtags? Well it will be a lot easier for Facebook to use hashtags (keywords) than to decipher accurately, complete posts. Without a doubt, this is the main reason Facebook are expanding into hashtags; profiling.
Should you use hashtags on Facebook? Well yes you should, from time to time at the most. You don’t want to get annoying about it, and have some courtesy, stay on topic! Use one or 2 most, and make them completely relevant, not like you may on twitter.
The hashtags are a good thing, used sparingly and with respect, or risk losing customers (if you are brand) or friends (if a profile). And stay on topic, yes I am repeating this for good reason!
Good on you Facebook, continuing to grow, expand and above all work for us, the user. Although not everyone may agree with that.
One quick thing before finishing this topic, the down side, to Facebook anyway. Facebook continue to evolve and grow, BUT they are missing a major point, people are going mobile by the minute. Facebook knows the vast majority of its users are on a mobile platform, yet they continue to develop products for a desktop, and the hashtag use is no different, graph search is only on desktop at the moment. Facebook do this often, and I am dumb founded why, they keep growing their service for desktops but ignore the fastest growing space, mobiles. But then again, so do business owners in their marketing. Maybe Facebook will understand this in time, and maybe this highlights the last reason about profiling, not user experience. Maybe they don’t really care if hashtags help your user experience or not, but assists the opportunity for more accurate user profiling as they grow towards the largest advertising platform the world has ever seen!
Please note: Not everyone has access to hashtags on Facebook yet, so be patient, they will come.