How to Market with Hashtags on Facebook
June 18, 2013 6 Comments
The biggest news on social media marketing this week was the introduction of hashtags by Facebook. What does this development mean and how does it affect your marketing efforts? Most importantly, how can you use this change to enhance your company’s online presence?
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is any word, acronym or phrase with no spaces, prefixed with the symbol #. It is a form of metadata tag. Short messages on social networking channels including Twitter, Tout, identi.ca, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, Google+ and Facebook may be tagged by putting “#” before important words that relate them to a topic, such as:
#AffinityExpress is a leading provider of #marketingproduction services.
Because messages are grouped together by hashtags on social media channels, it becomes easier to search for hashtags and get an entire set of messages containing those words.
How do hashtags function?
If promoted by enough people, any hashtag can “trend” and attract more individual users to discussions. On Twitter, extremely popular hashtags appear in the Trending Topics area of your Twitter homepage. They can be organized by geographic area or across all of Twitter. Hashtags are not registered or controlled by any one user or group of users.
They also do not they contain any set definitions, meaning that a single hashtag can be used for any number of purposes by different users. Because of their loose nature, it is difficult for hashtags to become “trending topics” because people often use different spellings or combinations of words to refer to the same topic.
Hashtags also function as beacons in order for users to find and “follow” (subscribe) or “list” (organize into public contact lists) other users of similar interests. Use hashtags on Google+ to include your posts in particular streams of discussions.
They are also used informally to provide context in messages, as in using words to express humor, excitement or other emotions, for example: “Happy #Earth Day! #Recycle #Restore” or “It’s my 100th blog post!! #Excited”
How do you use hashtags on Facebook?
Facebook launched the use of hashtags on June 12, 2013 and shared the following message on their blog:
Hashtags are now available to a small percentage of people and Pages on Facebook and we will roll them out more broadly in the coming weeks.
Here is what marketers need to know:
- If you are already using hashtags in an advertising campaign through other channels, you can amplify these campaigns by including your hashtags in Facebook advertising. The same creative best practices on Facebook still apply—compelling copy and photography that is in the brand voice works best.
- Any hashtags that you use on other platforms that are connected to your Facebook Page will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.
- Like other Facebook marketing tools, hashtags allow you to join and drive the conversations happening about your business. We recommend you search for and view real-time public conversations and test strategies to drive those conversations using hashtags.
- Hashtags do not impact your distribution or engagement in News Feeds on either desktop or mobile. We recommend you continue to focus on your existing campaigns to drive your most important business objectives.
On Facebook, as soon as you use the # symbol, a blue box will appear over your tag. Then click Post. Your tag will appear in bold within your status updates. Hashtags will give more relevant results to Facebook Graph Search. It is important to use trending hashtags in your posts to increase the chances of them being grouped under popular topics and showing up in searches of more and more social media users. Here are some tips for using hashtags:
- Do not overuse: Using too many hashtags in your posts makes your followers think you are spamming and research shows that engagement drops on Twitter when a tweet has two or more hashtags.
- Keep it short: It is good to keep your hashtags short, easy to spell and easy to remember. This way you can use them on multiple social media channels, even those with character limitations.
- Use no spaces: Make sure there are no spaces in the words within the hashtags or punctuation, as that will break the links.
- Check for trending topics: To find out if a hashtag is trending, there are a couple of websites worth checking out: www.hashtags.org and hashtagify.me. Search for the hashtag you intend to use to see how it is being used by others—you wouldn’t want to accidentally connect your business to a negative or controversial topic.
What do you do next with Facebook and hashtags?
Industry veterans and enthusiasts have been using Twitter and Quora for sharing expert opinions and tips on various topics. With hashtags, this tactic will also expand to Facebook and public discussions and comments will soon become common on this platform as well. Be prepared to come across positive and negative conversations about your business. Some tips to apply to your Facebook marketing strategy are:
- Build your brand popularity by engaging in more conversations on Facebook around your industry.
- Encourage public feedback on your updates. Respond to queries and comments quickly with the information your audience wants.
- Hold contests, quizzes and other participative discussions to encourage more communication with your business Facebook page.
- Share your website pages in your updates, so people can be guided to the exact service or product referenced in your posts. Keep checking number of website visits coming from Facebook.Now that Facebook has included hashtag communications, how do you plan to use them in your Facebook marketing?