We have arrived in the digital ‘Era of the #Hashtag’ – but did you know that this super-common social media strategy can ACTUALLY hurt your Facebook marketing attempts, rather than do good? Don’t hate on the Hashtag, but leave them off of Facebook! Zebra 360 Online takes a close look at hashtagging on the Facebook platform.

But, Wait, What? Facebook allows Hashtagging, Doesn’t it?

Yes, Facebook has, over time, adapted its platform to allow for the use of hashtags. HOWEVER, the need for hashtags wasn’t generated with Facebook – it’s a facet of the early days of Twitter, where it made specific terms more searchable for those looking for relevant content among the fast and ever-moving short messages of Twitter, where you can literally only see what you search for. It then bled over to Instagram & Pinterest, where it can again be useful by providing clear related search terms for the image-based content on that platform.

Although it CAN be used in a well-designed strategy to collect content in one place for brands, events and products on Facebook, when over- and erratically used, hashtags will make your posting there look cluttered and unclear, resulting in the content failing to reach the market you want.

Let’s look at why in a little more detail.

Successfully Marketing with the ‘Grand Matriarch of Social Media

Facebook has been around a long time, now, especially in comparison to other social media platforms. While this has anchored it a permanent spot in the ‘must-have’ ranks of social media marketing for companies, it also makes it a trickier platform for marketers to manage successfully.

The main aim of any social media marketing you undertake is to get your content seen by the right people. Being honest, content which isn’t seen is a failure, and potential a waste of revenue. That’s where the hashtag is useful for Twitter and Instagram – they make your content searchable, or able to gain reach and engagement from being part of a search. With Facebook’s algorithms and how you see content there, however, it’s considerably less successful.

Facebook started allowing hashtags a couple of years ago to remain ‘trendy’ in the eyes of its younger users, and because many people had begun to post content cross-platform – and with hashtags not pulling through to anything, Facebook was looking out dated and ‘broken’. This cross-sharing content, however, is a major online marketing faux pas all of its own… and definitely needs to be covered in it’s own blog story.

What makes content successful?

Successful content is content which is consumed, in all meanings of the word – read, watched, clicked and shared. Your best social media strategy is one that achieves this, and tailors your content to fit each platform perfectly.

What’s making my Facebook content flop when I’m using hashtags?

Unlike with Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, most people don’t ‘search’ Facebook content you are interested in by words or concepts – it’s presented to you, based on their algorithm, within your feed, or you search for a specific company or brand name to look at their page.

Did you know that popular content gets a boost because more people engage with it? And statistically, people just don’t engage when bombarded with #tons #of #hashtags.

Simply – they’re just bad Facebook practice! The human eye – which is what drives Facebook consumption – doesn’t react as well to them. They don’t fit with ‘proper’ Facebook language. People gloss over them, and too many hashtags can actually kill otherwise amazing content. #How #well #does #this #read #to #you #if #you’re #scrolling?

And, so?

Hashtags have a special place in social media marketing. They are ‘conversation pull-points’ which draw attention. This makes them valuable on ‘quick’ content platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Facebook, however, doesn’t work the same way and here they can very quickly kill all conversation around your post.

There are a few other issues, too. Because they weren’t native to the platform to start with, they don’t always work – becoming awkward dead text instead of searchable content. You can’t filter or use them meaningfully with Facebook’s menus and platform, so people simply don’t. You may catch a person or two from before the ‘hashtag generation’ tagging everything they post, but the majority of users avoid them. They don’t make you more visible in searches, and they don’t do much of anything except aggravate the eye of the reader- the very last thing you want on Facebook, where reader engagement is key to your visibility.

Surely I can use them effectively though? When should I use hashtags on Facebook?

There is ONE exception for hashtagging on Facebook – a clear, single idea such as a special day, particular campaign, product launch for a campaign or a heavily trending international topic that’s totally relevant to your post. Here, it can add worth and value to your use, people will see it, recognise it, and it will earn ‘good post’ status within the Facebook algorithm because of that engagement. Remember, getting that algorithm approval is the key to visibility and results on the platform.

Other than that specific use, we at Zebra 360 Online strongly urges you to avoid hashtagging Facebook posts in the same way they are used on other platforms as it will harm, rather than enhance, your social media marketing endeavours. As always, if you have any questions or need guidance with your current marketing efforts, we look forward to helping you build you brand to its best heights.