Facebook would like you believe that their hashtags work when in truth, the near opposite is true. In reality, many people still do not even know that Facebook has hashtags, let alone use them.
What is the first word that pops into your mind when you hear the word “hashtag”? Even for people that are not regular social media users, the answer is undoubtedly Twitter.
Although the term “hashtag” is most often associated with Twitter, there are a number of other platforms that have successfully implemented and currently use hashtags to engage their readers and foster communication, such as Google+, identi.ca and Instagram. Facebook is not included in the mix because their hashtag system is just not working as it should.
Hashtags are terrific tools that encourage interactive communication between users. They are designed with simplicity in mind and ease of use. Social media users can instantly connect and communicate with one another by simply using hashtags. It’s become an extremely popular way for people all over the world to interact in real time during events, television shows and more. Users take pride in hashtags they have created and the hashtags themselves can, in a sense, go viral and develop their own following.
- Locating topics that interest them.
- Following and keeping updated on trending topics.
- Viewing other comments by clicking on a hashtag.
- Interacting online with others based on shared hashtag interest.
The key is to make it simple for people to easily find things that interest them. All a user should have to do is type in the hashtag followed by a word or phrase that either interests them or that they want more information on and they should be taken to another page where the information appears instantly. It’s very similar to tags on Flickr.
On Facebook, this information can be nearly impossible to easily locate unless you have a lot of time to spend looking for it. When a user first logs into Facebook, there is currently no dedicated area on your page that lists hashtags. This makes it difficult for a user to quickly scan and find a topic that interests them.
Some users have reported that they do see hashtag messages from Facebook in their page notifications when they first log on, while other Facebook users have said that they do not see any of the hashtag messages. Some users have said that they see Facebook hashtags in their news feeds and others users report that they have never seen a hashtag in Facebook anywhere. This lack of consistency has caused a good amount of confusion.
When Facebook decided to jump on the bandwagon and begin using hashtags, they limited the availability to just a small percentage of users with the promise to add more and more users as time went on. However, time has gone on and there are still users that say they have not seen a single hashtag on Facebook. The continuing inconsistencies are very likely one of the main contributing factors as to why Facebook hashtags just aren’t as effective as other platforms that successfully use hashtags.
Since the Facebook hashtags are not easily visible to the masses on their homepage, users are simply unable to locate any hot trending topics. This is just another area where they have missed the mark in their attempts at implementing Facebook hashtags.
If a Facebook user does somehow manage to overcome the first two obstacles and finally locate a Facebook hashtag that interests them, more often than not they will find they are brought to a dead end because the hashtag is not clickable. That might be the biggest caveat as to why Facebook hashtags just aren’t effective since users often become frustrated if they click on a dead link.
As anyone familiar with hashtags knows, they are supposed to be clickable. After all, that’s one of the main points of using hashtags. Once you find one that piques your interest, many people will want to click through and see what others have to say and perhaps post their own comment and engage in a lively conversation.
With Facebook, sometimes they are clickable and sometimes they aren’t. The reason for this is that you have to know how to input the hashtags so that they are clickable, and it seems that many people are unfamiliar with this confusing process. Because it’s such a common issue on Facebook, workarounds have been implemented in an attempt to combat it. For most users, however, these workarounds are simply too much trouble.
Social media is designed to be quick. People want to log in, quickly post an update, scan trending topics, find something they like, and engage in conversation — all in span of minutes. In an ideal situation, you would log on to Facebook, quickly glance an any trending topics, and click through as much as you’d like without any stops or difficulties.
If a user did manage to get far enough in the Facebook hashtag process, after searching and searching for a hashtag, and is brought to a dead link, they will likely become quite irritated and will be more inclined not to use that function again.
Where exactly can you go to find consistent, fully functioning hashtags on Facebook? The answer is that no one really knows. This inconsistency and poor roll out have, at this point, rendered Facebook hashtags ineffective and nearly useless.