For social media users familiar with Twitter, Instagram, Google +, Pinterest, or even LinkedIn, hashtags have become a common and popular way to discover new content and conversations. For the typical social media user, hashtags are a doorway to find and track relevant content and conversations.
Last month, in an effort to challenge Twitter’s popularity, Facebook got on board the hashtag-bandwagon by introducing hashtags to its users. According to Facebook:
Hashtags turn topics and phrases into clickable links in your posts on your personal timeline or page. This helps people find posts about topics they’re interested in. To make a hashtag, write # (the number sign) along with a topic or phrase (written as one word).
With hashtags, Facebook users will be able to:
- Search for a specific hashtag from the search bar.
- Click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram and Twitter.
- Compose status updates directly from the hashtag feed and search results.
Who can see your posts when you use hashtags?
There seems to be a lot of concerns about privacy and Facebook’s hashtags. As far as I can tell there’s nothing to worry about; your privacy settings determine who is able to see your hashtaged posts. So, if you use a hashtag in a status update that is restricted to your friends, only your friends will be able to see that status in a hashtag search. For individual users, it’s business as usual.
On the other hand, for businesses trying to use hashtags to connect with fans outside their usual sphere of influence, I think it’s going to be an uphill battle – they will need to request that users change their privacy settings to public before they make a post using a hashtag. Because of this, it is unlikely that we will see business related conversations form on Facebook like they do on Twitter.
However, the credibility hurdle that businesses face with new customers will be lowered because friends will be endorsing their products and services — either directly or indirectly — by using a business’s hashtag.
Initially, the beneficiaries of Facebook’s hashtags will be the early adopters; those brands and advertisers who strive to connect with fans outside of their regular sphere of influence will be able to connect more easily with potential customers. The late adopters will miss the opportunity to connect with new customers when the hashtag-novelty wears off.
Facebook Hashtag Best Practices
To maximize your reach and engagement with potential customers, you need to use hashtags effectively.
- Keep them relevant. Select a hashtag that represents your company, contest, promotion, or brand. Consider using your company name, location, and products and services.
- Keep them short. Make them simple and easy to remember — acronyms are all right if they mean something to you potential customers. For longer hashtags use CamelCase.
- Be consistent. Decide on a set of hashtags to use in all of your posts and stick to them. Use them across all of your social media: Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google +, etc. In fact, you should include your main hashtags in all of your communications such as email, business cards, and invoices.
- No more than three hashtags per post. Too many makes your post look cluttered. They can be included within the post itself or at the end of the post.
- Monitor and respond to conversations as they develop on Facebook. Set aside time each day (or two) to engage and answer the questions of people talking about your topic.
3 Things to Avoid
Commit any of these faux pas and you’ll annoy the piss out of your readers. I’m just sayin’ …
- #Do #not #tag #every #word
- Do not jump on a trend without relating your post to the topic.
While hashtags should never be used as a stand-alone strategy or tactic to reach new or potential customers, their integration into a comprehensive marketing campaign is worth serious consideration.
Leave a comment on how you see hashtags fitting into your overall marketing strategy?
Until next time …
PS. I just asked my college-aged daughter if she ever used hashtags on Facebook and her response was, “Leave hashtags to Twitter. No one ever uses hashtags on Facebook. Facebook wasn’t made for hashtags.” Interesting … What do you think? Are hashtags only for Twitter?