Facebook Hashtags- Good or Bad?

Bethany Sterzer

June 20, 2013

Some of us #lovetousehashtags anywhere we possibly can. Others of us feel like it should be relegated to just Twitter or Instagram. While I can see the appeal to #hashtageverything, it never made sense to me to hashtag on Facebook. What value did it bring other than the satisfaction of not having to hit that spacebar between words when writing your status update, or perhaps the satisfaction of feeling like your hashtag addition was a (supposed) entertaining quip to enhance your post?

And I’m not alone. There’s a Facebook page dedicated to stopping hashtags on Facebook. Clearly, people feel strongly about this.

But before you Facebook hashtaggers get defensive, don’t worry—Facebook is on your side. As of just a few days ago, Facebook has begun to roll out this new feature officially, making hashtags clickable. This is similar to how it is utilized on other social media sites, such as the pioneering hashtag site, Twitter.

So, what are the potential positives of having hashtags on Facebook?

1)    Organization to your Facebook content. Similar to Twitter, you can click on the hashtag and it will pull up other posts that use the same hashtag so you can see other opinions on the same topic.

2)    You can stay up-to-speed on trending topics. This is a feature that will be coming soon on the heels of the initial roll out.

3)    Marketers can get creative with this new functionality. Company-specific hashtags can be promoted on Facebook to encourage even more engagement, aggregation of relevant target audience postings becomes easier, and unconnected users of a company hashtag can have a conversation that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to, among other things.

4)    Hashtag-specific advertising is sure to follow. Data collection for targeting the correct audience will allow for more bang for each marketer’s buck. While this may be annoying to the general public, this could be a huge positive to advertisers.

And the downsides?

1)    When I told a co-worker about this new feature, her response was, “Why does everything have to turn into everything?” She makes a good point. We have Instagram to share and modify photos (and coming soon—videos!), we have Twitter to send 140-characters-or-less updates, we have LinkedIn to show our more professional sides, and we have Pinterest to get creative (nevermind that most of those platforms already use hashtags). But are they all simply stealing features from one another, eventually to result in multiple social media sites that essentially do the same thing? There’s something to be said for having a strong delineation between social platforms that doesn’t get muddied.

2)    Having hashtags searchable means your post is more visible than it once was. This brings up some serious privacy concerns.

3)    There is a very great possibility that hashtags on Facebook will become over-utilized making Facebook feeds illegible and, quite frankly, annoying.

4)    For companies concerned with keeping their current followers on all their social media sites, this can pose a challenge. Marketers have the responsibility to make the experience different on each of their social platforms for each audience to keep them engaged. This becomes more difficult with overlapping functionalities.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think? Are Facebook hashtags good or bad? Leave your thoughts in a comment below, but please, for my sake, #keepthehashtagstoaminimum.