When Facebook announced in June that it was adopting the use of clickable hashtags (#) in its content algorithms, reviews were mixed. Many businesses saw this as a great way to share content among an interested audience, and adopted them quickly.
Others were not so quick to embrace.
“Hashtags are Facebook’s braces,” explained Molly McHugh in Digital Trends, comparing the new feature to that unfortunate teen who gets fitted with braces two years too late when all her friends are having them removed. “Hashtags are Facebook’s braces. The social network was late to the party, and now it’s stuck looking silly.”
Theoretically hashtags work on Facebook in much the same way they do on Twitter; click a hashtag and get a stream of related topics. Companies began including hashtags in posts in hopes of increasing their reach, but the expected viral boost just didn’t happen.
In fact, median viral reach has gone down for posts with hashtags compared to posts without, according to a new study by EdgeRank Checker.
Frankly, we are not surprised. By trying to emulate something that is native to another channel (Twitter), Facebook has gotten the feedback loud and clear: keep the # on Twitter where it belongs and has grown up as part of the native language. The 140-character limit and the less intimate and personal nature of Twitter allow for more brand engagement and anonymous connecting. Facebook is just too personal for this approach to work.
Still, we do appreciate the humorous use of the symbol as social commentary. Droll wit always has its place, and we applaud it. #funnystuff #nowstop