Facebook Announces Hashtags
A recent Facebook press release announced it has enabled “public conversations,” aka #hashtags, available starting June 12th. With this update, Facebook is joining other social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr, using hashtags as a way to organize conversation and link topics from one user to the next. Hashtags used through these other social media platforms and shared through Facebook allow engagement with current followers and may reach new potential customers who are not already connected. It will also connect you to the greater conversation on the desired topic.
(For an introduction to hashtags, you may be interested in: What the #### is a Hashtag? – An introduction to the proper use of hashtags for small businesses)
In the press release introducing the new hashtag feature, Facebook explained that users are utilizing the new platform to talk about what’s going on around them. Whether it be a tropical storm, who might take the Stanley Cup, an episode of Game of Thrones, or a TED Talks symposium, events like these are getting millions of mentions.
By making these hashtags clickable and interactive, Facebook allows users a richer experience and engagement into a topic or conversation. Facebook also clarified, on ABC News, that hashtagged posts will still respect the regular privacy settings.
What is a #Hashtag?
A hashtags is a term or idea preceded by the pound symbol ‘#’. The term embeds the category, so that a user can click on it to connect with other posts or images on or about that topic. This is a major step for Facebook toward their goal of becoming more of a search friendly platform, in addition to its social networking base.
You can consider social networking sites as a huge filing cabinet. It is filled with thoughts, statements, questions, and comments about different topics. Hashtags are like the tabs of the folders categorizing these different topics.
So, instead of fumbling through the file cabinet aimlessly, simply search a hashtag (which is searching a specific topic) or click on an existing hashtag to automatically be directed to the search page. By doing this, you will be shown all posts using that same tag, listed in chronological order.
So What Will This Mean for Your Business or Brand?
Facebook’s use of hashtags will not cause an abrupt change to your online marketing campaign strategy only enhance it. Here are some helpful best practices when hashtagging:
- Incorporate hashtags into your posts, but do not only post a hashtag or overuse them. The tag should add to your message but not be the only element of that message.
- Create a hashtag specific to your company that goes with your message and encourage followers and current customers to use it and create conversations around that hashtag.
- Incorporate topic-specific terms that reach a targeted audience which has interests related to your product or services, such as #business or #NewYork.
- Be sure not to over-tag. Limit your hashtags to 1 – 3 per post and be mindful of terms that others are already using and searching organically. This will help to reach a new audience that was not previously connected with or aware of your brand.
- When tagging terms that require multiple words, they must be written without a space between, as one word. To help readers discern each word and understand what is being written, be sure to capitalize each new word, for example #SocialMedia or #PoliticalCommunications.
Hashtags allow for more brand interaction and a greater conversation because they link all similar tags in one easily searchable location.