Facebook has been struggling to improve its search functionality for some time. The social behemoth aims to remedy this with the advent of Graph Search which is slowly rolling out to users. But even with Graph Search there is not a simple way to search what's happening or what common topics friends and brands are talking about. Now that looks to be a thing of the past with the introduction of Hashtags on Facebook.

Facebook has often mentioned that users have been including hashtags within their updates but only now are they clickable. Much like on other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest or LinkedIn hashtags have become the common form communication to find out more about an event or topic.

At AnalogFolk we manage social presences for a number of well known brands and we are proud to be amongst the first to utilise Facebook's new hashtag functionality for Dulux UK and Malibu global.

Our team of social strategists and community managers were ready and prepared for its arrival, having pre-empted this happening as early as March this year, we readied a stream of potential posts and hashtags for relevant content from the archives.

Here's our launch post for Dulux UK:

And for Malibu Rum:

Stephen Pirrie, Social Strategy Director at AnalogFolk, said: ‘As we’ve seen with Twitter and other social platforms, hashtags are a great way for users to navigate themed content.

‘The arrival of hashtags to Facebook presents brands with an opportunity to categorise engaging content. Crucially, this allows users who may have previously not been exposed to this content to navigate through to it should they find the subject matter of interest.

‘Furthermore, brands that use generic, non-branded hashtags (eg #Glastonbury or #fathersday) have the opportunity to achieve further reach amongst non-fans who are already engaged in that particular subject matter.’

What does it look like when you click on a hashtag within an update? #seasidechic is the June design theme on Dulux UK's Facebook page:

We expect to see trending hashtags introduced over the coming months, along with sponsored hashtags where brands can effectively jump the queue and pay to be a trending topic.  We're excited to see what's next for brands and when #advertising becomes possible.

Why is the hashtag so important?

  • According to BrandWatch, one in every 400 words starts with a hashtag on Twitter.
  • Images on Instagram that include hashtags, get more likes than images that do not. The most powerful of these are reciprocity hashtags (those asking for an action by another person) Eg. #followforfollow, #likeforlike and #tagsforlikes.
  • They provide a binding glue for people at events and conferences to feel part of a collective, and also for those who are following virtually, it brings them closer to the action like never before.
  • It gives Facebook an opportunity to 'catch up' with the speed of Twitter. In the most recent Super Bowl, Twitter or hashtags were mentioned in 50% of all ads broadcast by some of the largest advertisers in the world, whereas Facebook only received 8% of the mentions.
  • Similarly, the 'Oreo' moment happened on Twitter because of it's real time nature and not Facebook - arguably the most high profile brand moment in recent history. We had our own little Oreo moment too with our Brits tweet.
  • Google+  now automatically applies relevant hashtags to users posts.