A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #. They have been used for some time by Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Chris Messina was the first to introduce them to Twitter. Searching for a hashtag will bring together all entries containing that word or phrase.
Image source: Matt Hamm, Flickr
Facebook have now introduced clickable hashtags and in their recent news post describe them as a way of adding context to posts and means of sharing public conversations about a given topic.
Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations. We’ll continue to roll out more features in the coming weeks and months, including trending hashtags and deeper insights, that help people discover more of the world’s conversations.
How to use them in Facebook
Add the symbol # directly before the word or phrase with NO gaps between and include this in your post. So for example “I am baking a #chocolate cake” would convert #chocolate in to a clickable link.
Searching for hashtags
You can search for hashtags in the regular search bar, or just type in your browser: facebook.com/hashtag/xxx (replace the x’s with the tag you want to look up). The public posts containing the hashtag will appear in an order decided by Facebook’s algorithm which is based on popularity (like top stories) and as yet can’t be changed to date order.
The search will bring up the top 6 results. You then can choose to select one of them or see more results. This seems to list pages to ‘Like’ and not posts. However if you select the #chocolate Hashtag (second entry) you get to see posts containing the hashtag.
You can also see posts containing #chocolate via your browser: https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/chocolate (replace chocolate with the hashtag you wish to search for).
Mari Smith (Facebook expert) posted this entry outlining concerns you might have about hashtags, which she openly asks people to share:
“Lots of confusion flying around about #hashtag #privacy. This brand new feature is rolling out to all users. Here’s the scoop on privacy:
* Hashtags work on personal profile posts, fan page posts, group posts, event posts, and all comments.
* As with all personal profile features on Facebook, privacy settings prevail.
* If you publish a post on your profile to friends only, and the post contains a hashtag – yes, the hashtag will be clickable and open up to display all other posts on Facebook containing that hashtag.
* But, ONLY friends can see friends-only posts that show up in hashtag searches.
* Public posts—with or without hashtags—are public.
* Private (friends-only) posts—with or without hashtags—are just that: private and visible to friends only.
*Even when friends include hashtags in comments on your friends-only thread, your post is still private and visible just to your friends.
*With hashtags shared in private groups, that clickable hashtag will open to show public posts with that tag (along with any friends’ posts with that tag), but posts from the private group would only show to members.
*Individual comments on threads do not surface in hashtag searches; just posts show in searches.
Make sense? Please share with your friends! Thanks!
How will you use hashtags within Facebook?