Although some users already were employing hashtags in Facebook posts (possibly because they were cross-posting from other networks that do use and support them, including Twitter, Instagram and Google+), Facebook had no support for hashtags - until now. In other words, you could see the hashtags in a Facebook post, but you couldn't search for hashtags or find posts talking about the same topic.
Now Facebook has announced that hashtags will be both searchable and clickable - if you search for a hashtag using Facebook's search bar or click on a hashtag in a Facebook post, you'll see a list of posts that include that hashtag, grouped by what Facebook thinks are the most relevant posts to that particular user. This will allow Facebook users to see what other people are talking about and to participate in public conversations.
Hashtags are often used by social media users when commenting on events in real time, such as when watching a particular television program, watching or attending a sporting event, attending a concert, etc. A recent study, "Talking Social TV" conducted by the Council for Research Excellence, revealed that half of the respondents reported watching TV at the same time they were using social media.
Many social media users employ hashtags when talking about television programs. This presents huge opportunities for advertising and promotion. (Why do you think you now see hashtags appear on the screen when you're watching TV?) That may be one of the reasons why Facebook has decided to begin supporting them.
According to Facebook, now you can:
• Search for a specific hashtag from your search bar. For example, #NBAFinals.
• Click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram.
• Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.
For Facebook users who are concerned that using a hashtag in a Facebook post will make that post searchable - and therefore visible - publicly, Facebook has indicated that posts with hashtags will be treated the same way other posts on Facebook are treated. In other words, you set the audience for your post. If the audience for the post is public, the hashtag will be searchable and viewable publicly. If you set a specific audience for the post, only those individuals will be able to view the post, whether it contains a hashtag or not.
Don't forget that if you have created a Facebook business Page, your posts are always public, and that will include any post that includes a hashtag.
If hashtags aren't working for you on Facebook yet, they will be soon. Do you think this a feature that you'll use on Facebook?