How Brands Should Use Facebook #Hashtags


Published on

Now that Facebook has launched clickable hashtags, the keyword tag is one of the most powerful tools for integrated, multi-platform marketing. This point of view discusses best practices for expanding reach and engagement for your brand by incorporating hashtags into the marketing mix. Bottom line: brands that are actively using hashtags on other platforms should consider amplifying campaign messaging to their communities on Facebook.

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

How Brands Should Use Facebook #Hashtags

  1. 1. ICROSSING POV:Now that Facebook has launched clickable hashtags, the keyword tag is one of the most powerful toolsfor integrated, multi-platform marketing. This point of view discusses best practices for expandingreach and engagement for your brand by incorporating hashtags into the marketing mix. Bottom line:brands that are actively using hashtags on other platforms should consider amplifying campaignmessaging to their communities on Facebook. But be aware that Facebook is rolling out hashtagsslowly in coming weeks, and consider taking a proactive role helping your audience understandhow hashtags work. If your Facebook audience seems unready or resistant to adopting hashtagsimmediately, consider waiting until the full rollout before bringing hashtags into Page posts.HOW BRANDS SHOULD USE FACEBOOK #HASHTAGSWritten by Ashmi Elizabeth Dang, Associate Director, Social Strategy, iCrossing© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 1
  2. 2. 2© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. JUNE 2013HOW BRANDS SHOULD USE FACEBOOK #HASHTAGSWHAT IS A HASTAG?A hashtag is a word or a phrase with no spaces, punctuation or symbols, prefixed with the ‘#’ symbol, which converts the text intoa live hyperlink. Think of hashtags as pinpoint precision search queries. Clicking the link associated with a hashtag now displaysall publicly shared content on the platform that is using the same hashtag. This feature gives people the ability to discover andengage with content around specific topics and themes with others within and outside their personal social networks.There are two ways people — and brands — insert hashtags into content across platforms and apps:+ Within the text of a status update, when the hashtag is relevant to a message being posted (as shown here):+ As a keyword, at the end of a status update, that identifies the post as part of a topic of discussion (as shown here):The main distinction for how hashtags appear across social networks and apps lies with the content that is prevalent to theindividual platform, as well as the mechanisms for finding and engaging with tagged content.HASHTAGS: THEN AND NOWLive hashtag links first became part of the social media lexicon on Twitter in2009 and grew in popularity alongside user growth of the platform. Since then,they have become a key component of the user experience across severalpopular social networking platforms and apps including Pinterest, Tumblr,Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, and Google+. Moving beyond digital spaces,hashtags have also appeared in print, TV and in out-of-home media as subtlecalls-to-action to be part of your conversations in social spaces.Now that hashtags are on Facebook, marketers should view them as aplatform-agnostic, digital tool to help you improve reach in a new way anddrive engagement with a much greater population of Internet users online.As seen in the accompanying graphic, Facebook is the number one socialnetworking platform, with the greatest diversity of users by age. As such,Facebook will expose a wider age range (18-65+) to hashtags than most socialnetworks and apps, which have smaller user bases that in some cases are alsomuch younger.Source: "Social Media in 2013: User Demographics ForTwitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram" (May 2013)
  3. 3. 3© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. JUNE 2013HOW BRANDS SHOULD USE FACEBOOK #HASHTAGSFACEBOOK ROLLOUT OF HASHTAGSFacebook is taking a test-and-learn approach by releasing hashtags to Facebook members slowly over several weeks. Thisapproach allows Facebook to observe how people engage and use them, make adjustments, and continue the rollout to moreand more members.Here is what brands and people can expect from Facebook hashtags:+ Hashtags will appear as clickable links on Facebook desktop posts only; there is no word on mobile integration (at least forthe moment)+ Hashtags created in linked third-party apps that publish to Facebook, such as Instagram, will become live links on desktopposts+ Hashtags will not affect organic reach or post engagement in the Facebook News Feed (EdgeRank)+ Existing privacy settings remain in effect for content that includes a hashtag; however, due to the ease of discovery, usersshould check and adjust their privacy settings accordingly+ For the time being, Facebook will not support hashtag targeting for advertising+ Insights and trending topics are not yet available+ Not all hashtags will retroactively go live+ Page admins can search and interact with hashtags as the PageClicking a hashtag will open a separate pop-up feed where users will see stories shared by Pages and people that have postedwith the same hashtag. However, results will not include posts where the hashtag appears only within the comments, allowingthe originator of the post to maintain control of what hashtags content will appear against.In addition to clicking on a hashtag link, users can discover content through Facebook Graph Search (as seen in the followinggraphic). Although Graph Search offers the option to search the web for a hashtag, results do not include content from any othersocial network, which makes this feature less functional than it appears, but reflects Facebook’s desire to keep users on theirplatform as much as possible.Similar to Twitter, each hashtag has a unique URL that can be used on external platforms to push users to tagged content onFacebook. URLs are constructed in two ways:+ all cases, Facebook appears to be applying an algorithm to hashtag search results, as content is not displayed in chronologicalorder. Additionally, hashtag content does not remain searchable over an extended period of time as seen in the following example.The latter is a key differentiator between Facebook and other platforms such as Twitter, which allow brands and users to viewcontent going back to the original post that featured the hashtag.
  4. 4. 4© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. JUNE 2013HOW BRANDS SHOULD USE FACEBOOK #HASHTAGSRECOMMENDATIONS FOR INCORPORATING HASHTAGS INTO FACEBOOK BRAND CONTENTDue to the slow rollout and ongoing changes since launch day, hashtags have been received with mixed results. As seen in thefollowing post, for those unfamiliar with this type of clickable link and who may not yet have access to use hashtags, the launch ofhashtags has created confusion as to their purpose. For these users, hashtags appear as plain text with seemingly random wordsnow featuring the “#” symbol. Those that have used them on other platforms are expecting similar functionality on Facebook,which is not necessarily the case. Privacy issues remain a top concern, which may mean slow adoption by new users.As such, iCrossing recommends:+ Brands that are actively and successfully using hashtags on other platforms should consider amplifying campaign messagingto their community on Facebook+ If your target consumer and active user base on Facebook is not likely to understand how to use a hashtag, consider waitinguntil full rollout before bringing hashtags into Page posts+ Test a hashtag by searching content on Facebook prior to launch to ensure tagged brand posts fits with public conversation+ Avoid using generic hashtags like #contest #free and #giveaway, as these keywords may not bring the desired target toparticipate in social campaigns+ When introducing hashtags to your community, consider using existing hashtags that have lively, relevant, and engagingconversation as a way to educate new users+ If you are the administrator of a Facebook Page, track and engage in conversations with posted hashtags during day-to-daycommunity management; hashtags constitute an opportunity to bring new fans to the PageFacebook has said its goal is “to bring these conversations more to the forefront,” and “will be rolling out a series of features thatsurface some of the interesting discussions people are having.” This guidance suggests that we can expect the addition of morefeatures that are currently seen on other platforms such as trending topics, which can give brands and users an opportunity toparticipate in relevant, up-to-the-minute discussions on the platform.Additionally, we might see Facebook incorporate some forms of measurement and tracking, which could include engagementand reach based on number of clicks on the hashtag that originated from a Page post; and hashtag trend data for tags used onPage content.LOOK FOR SHIFTS IN TRAFFIC SOURCESWith the rollout of Facebook hashtags, users are going to be encouraged to look for more content because hashtags make iteasier to do a search. Consequently, brands can expect a sites traffic from Facebook to increase. Brands should review howmuch traffic they are currently getting from Facebook, take a benchmark and regularly review the percentage of traffic from oncehashtags are in use.
  5. 5. 5© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. JUNE 2013HOW BRANDS SHOULD USE FACEBOOK #HASHTAGSSTAY CONNECTEDFind out more at www.icrossing.comCall us toll-free at 866.620.3780Follow us on twitter @icrossing and @thecontentlabBecome a fan at general, hashtag tracking has proven to be very difficult to monitor across multiple platforms. Twitter’s now-public dashboard,for example, does not include this data. Various third-party dashboards such as Brandwatch, Tagboard, TweetReach, Statigramand offer tracking, but each with varying limitations. Ultimately, no brand or person can truly own a hashtag, whichmakes accurate measurement across multiple platforms an ongoing challenge.For brands and their audiences, Facebook hashtags remain an important, but nascent, development. Brands should absolutelybegin to embrace hashtags. At the same time, be aware that as with many new developments, hashtags are a work in progress.Test and learn along with your audience. Be prepared to adapt your approach (and quickly). As hashtags develop, look for moreinsights from iCrossing.