Facebook has finally taken the hint and incorporated hashtag functionality, so now all your posts can be categorized with these handy tools. However, while it might seem like laughs and giggles from now on, this hashtag utility isn’t perhaps as functional as it could be.

Do Hashtags Make Facebook More Relevant or Are They too Late to the Game?

We’re always talking about how useful Facebook is for social media marketing and it is, but in certain things it has lagged behind. Sure, it’s great that Facebook has now given in to hashtags, but is it too little too late? A recent Mashable argument indicated that younger people prefer Twitter to Facebook, so if that’s a significant portion of your market you might want to focus your efforts on Twitter, Instagram, and the like.

The reason that teen enthusiasm for Facebook is waning is that they were becoming increasingly annoying with the quotidian updates and drama people post, and Twitter is a viable antidote because it limits tweets to 140 characters. However, Facebook does still continue to corner the social media market, but as far as advertising goes, a Pew Internet and American Life Project study indicated that while teens were happy to friend classmates and celebrities, they were not engaging with brands in meaningful numbers.

The Pew study says that Twitter is now the fastest-growing social network for teenage users, so if you are looking to engage a teenage audience in a significant way, then this is where you need to be. While we can speculate on the reasons that teenage users are becoming fatigued with Facebook, it will be interesting to see if the implementation of hashtags will make a difference, although I suspect not. Even Google+ incorporated hashtags before Facebook, and that’s really saying something.

Are People Using More Hashtags on Facebook?                                                      

Not on my newsfeed. Now, that result may be indicative of my friends, but the culture surrounding Facebook hashtagging has changed because it has been really unpopular to do so non-ironically for a long time. If you’re like me, you’ve had a couple of friends use hashtags on Facebook when hashtags didn’t work, as others looked on asking “What’s the point?” Hashtags are ways for posts to be indexed according to keywords, so if your social media platform isn’t creating those links, then it all becomes #irrelevant.

Because of this, people have become used to NOT hashtagging on Facebook, and have become more aware of what hashtags really are and what they do. As such, the transition to suddenly hashtagging on Facebook is going to take some time, even though it does solve some problems with Twitter shares. Those who are already sharing tweets, Vine videos, and Instagram photos on Facebook, who already use hashtags, will benefit because the hashtags will now work and link to something, and you won’t have to post each update individually to avoid the embarrassing hashtag non-functionality on Facebook (like I did).

Old Hashtags Aren’t Indexed                                                                                                                                                      

However, despite all of this, my biggest problem with hashtags on Facebook is that after years of people using them when they didn’t work, I assumed that Facebook would now have an elaborate network of hashtag backlinks as all the old ones would be activated. Wrong. Posts that contained hashtags and were created before full functionality still aren’t being indexed. Now, this may be because Facebook is going to roll out an update that makes this finally work, but at this point it would be pretty useful if Facebook was already mining old posts for other hashtags.

All in all I think the Facebook hashtag has the power to enhance business social media marketing, especially if people use tools like Tagboard to find results across multiple social networking platforms, but at this point it feels a little passé. We’ve had hashtags forever and have been using them everywhere else, so Facebook is arriving late to dinner. Although I doubt that Facebook will disappear into obscurity, in the future it needs to be on the forefront of social media change, not picking up the rear.