Using Facebook #Hashtags
In the social media realm, hashtags consist of a word, words or a phrase that is preceded by the number symbol, “#”. In online media forums, this symbol represents a metadata tag, whereby people can easily search for keywords or phrases and find online conversations pertaining to that particular hashtag.
A Brief #History of the Hashtag
The hashtag is most closely associated with Twitter. In August 2007, Chris Messina was the first person to ever use a hashtag when he proposed the idea as a potential system for tagging topics of interest on the microblogging network. According to lexicographer, Ben Zimmer, the term ‘hashtag’ was first mentioned as such by Stowe Boyd. By 2009, the hashtag had become a Twitter mainstay, and by 2010, Twitter sealed the deal by introducing “Trending Topics” to Twitter.
Hashtags were there to stay.
Facebook Takes On #Hashtags
Today, hashtags are used by most of the big social media/microblogging players: Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest…and now Facebook.
On June 12, 2013, Facebook made the news when it announced that it would be introducing hashtags to “help its users follow trending discussions or search what others [were] talking about on a particular topic.” [source].
So, why is this a big deal? According to a recent mobile hashtag study conducted by RadiumOne, hashtags are more than just a big deal in the social sharing world; it’s HUGE. According to vice president, mobile at RadiumOne, Kamal Kaur:
“Unlike other forms of social sharing, hashtags implicitly reflect customer sentiment and are one of the most powerful ways consumers have to vocalize their tastes and preferences at scale in a real-time fashion.”
There is no doubt that hashtags have become ubiquitous with social sharing. Notable examples of hashtags can be seen in such celebrity uses as Jimmy Fallon’s “Late Night hashtags” and Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets”.
5 Ways Facebook #Hashtags are Beneficial for Businesses
- Allows businesses to target a certain audience
- Allows businesses easier access to tap into trending topics (be part of the conversation)
- Makes it easier for people to find their brand/business (better searchability)
- Makes it easy to promote services or products
- Allows for better advertising/marketing (targeted ads)
Tips for Using Facebook #Hashtags Effectively
- Don’t use more than 1-3 hashtags:
No one likes overkill. Using more than 5-6 hashtags may be a bit much. Instead, tone it down and really use a few core hashtags that will really target the topic and/or audience you’re trying to reach. Less is more sometimes. Keep in mind that Twitter limits the space you have to say what you want. Just because Facebook doesn’t have a limit (yet) doesn’t give you free license to insert 25 hashtags into a post!
- Geotag your messages:
The same way you would check in to a Foursquare spot, try using Facebook hashtags instead. For example, if you are at the “ABC Bar” in “XYZ Town”, use the hashtags, #ABCBar and #XYZTown.
- Keep it relevant- always:
You’ll only hurt your business/brand’s credibility if you fail to keep your hashtags relevant to what you are actually discussing. For example, if you see that a major trending topic has to do with #nbafinals, don’t use that hashtag as a window opportunity to promote pool cleaning supplies (ex: Pool cleaning supplies are now buy one, get one free #nbafinals). It will likely do more harm for your brand than good.
- Take advantage of the auto-fill:
The same way you type a search term into Google, and it guesses what you are trying to search for, so it is the same with Facebook. Rather than dismiss this auto-fill feature, look at what is being suggested. It may be relevant to what you are trying to accomplish. If so, use the suggested hashtag!
- Avoid extra spaces:
Putting in extra spaces will cancel out the hashtag or cause you to hashtag the wrong thing. Take the following examples:
Incorrect: #movie theater
- Use hashtags in your mobile posts and advertising campaigns.
Be smart about hashtags. According to a study conducted by RadiumOne in which 494 participants were polled, almost 60 percent admitted to using hashtags on a regular basis while a whopping 71 percent of regular hashtag users admitting to doing so via their mobile devices.
The point? Hashtags are a major way that most online socialites communicate. By incorporating hashtags into your online advertising, you can a more specific audience.
- Take advantage of social aggregate sites:
With Facebook joining the ranks of its social predecessors in the hashtag game, you can now fully take advantage of social aggregate sites. One great site worth checking out is Tagboard (www.tagboard.com). Tagboard is a social media site that aggregates (or pulls in info from) hashtagged posts across social sites such as: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine and Google+.
- Unifying Social Media with the #Hashtag: FB Brings it Full Circle:
By having Facebook hashtags, brands and businesses will finally be able to complete the social circle of advertising under one, unified front. As previously mentioned, all of the other major social media players were already using hashtags, and many businesses weren’t able to leverage themselves the same way on Facebook. However, now the circle is complete. Brands and users alike will now be able to post a hashtagged item to most major social media accounts and have it make sense.
For individuals with privacy settings, the hashtags will only be viewable by those who are allowed to see their status updates. However, online marketers will end up being the big winners because with the introduction of Facebook hashtags, targeted advertising campaigns will truly be just that: targeted specifically and more clearly at those who are actually engaged in conversations about certain #hashtagged items.
Perhaps the most exciting part about Facebook hashtags, however, is the fact that the use of hashtags is still in its infancy. Meaning? The possibilities for innovation are endless.
- Tso, R. (March 2013). RadiumOne finds over 70 percent of consumers favor using hashtags…Retrieved from: http://www.radiumone.com/about/press/hashtags-on-mobile-devices.html
- Wikipedia. Facebook. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook