First look: Facebook Hashtags

Yesterday, Facebook announced that it was rolling out clickable hashtags. Today, it appears that the first of users are seeing the hashtags live and clickable on their newsfeeds.

When you include a hashtag in a post, looks like this:

Hashtags on Facebook screenshot

Once you click the hashtag, a popup within the page appears showing the hashtag feed and also allowing you to make more posts about the same topic.

Facebook Hashtag Feed

The feed will show all available conversations with the hashtag, including public and conversations shared with you by friends and brands. Within the feed, users can also click through to other hashtags. A back button allows you go back to the original hashtag feed:

Hashtag Feed Facebook back button

Users can also search a hashtag in the Facebook search bar with the same functionality:

Hashtag Feed Facebook Search

While the hashtag feed will show you a mix of brands, friends and others using the hashtag publicly, it will automatically favour posts by those you follow over posts from those simply using the tag. This allows you to see the posts you’re probably most interested in – those from people/brands you know – first and posts from others participating in the conversation second.

Still unsure about what hashtags will mean for you? Here’s a quick FAQ with everything you need to know:

Facebook Hashtag FAQ:

How will privacy settings work with these hashtags?

  • Your privacy settings will determine who sees your post. If you have a post set to public, anyone can see and comment on it. If you have it set to friends only or friends-of-friends, those people will be able to see and comment. It’s business as usual for privacy.

If I comment on a post and use a hashtag, will it appear in the search?

  • After experimenting with this, it appears hashtags used within comments on posts will not cause the post to be aggregated on that hashtag feed. Hashtags are functional on posts only.

Can anyone comment on my public post that uses a hashtag? Can brands comment?

  • Anyone who is able to see your post based on your privacy settings will be able to comment, like and share your post.
  • Brands will be able to see your public posts but will be unable to comment, as usual. Yes, this makes moderation of public posts difficult.

How should I use hashtags?

  • Use hashtags to participate in public conversations as you would on Twitter. Proceed with caution – anyone searching the tag will be able to participate!
  • Use hashtags to communicate with a group of friends. Choose a hashtag for your birthday party or special event – just make sure everyone has their privacy set to friends or friends-of-friends!

All in all, the Facebook hashtag feature is intuitive and aligned with existing user behaviour on the social networks. It’s easy to use and I can see how it would be really easy to get lost in hashtags on Facebook the way many people do on other networks. The difference is that we’re experiencing these public updates in a really accessible way on a social network that has previously been mostly closed off and private. It will also allow users to explore hashtags on imported Instagram photos, enriching the Facebook photo experience.

Here’s to un-ironic (or clickably ironic) #hashtags!