Some of you may already be aware, but about 18 hours ago Facebook announced that they are allowing for hashtags in Facebook to be clickable! But what does this mean? What are hashtags? and how can we use this to benefit our businesses and specifically in our marketing?
Although Facebook is known to have popularised the method of tagging content, which basically means adding an “@” in front of a name or a group to give them a “shout out” almost, it was Twitter that really went above and beyond through the creation of hashtagging. Using a “#” in front of a word or saying is a simple way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic and to begin a conversation. For example, if you search #Arrow (or #arrow – it’s not case sensitive), you’ll get a list of tweets related to the TV show… but you won’t get tweets that say “I shot an arrow today” because “arrow” wasn’t preceded by the hashtag.
So why is it so important and such a game changer that Facebook has now allowed for clickable hashtags within their own social media? Simple.. the hashtag has proven to be a handy system for social networking users to search, join and participate in online conversations as events unfold in real-time, such as political debates, television shows and sports. It also becomes an easy way for advertisers to reach specific demographics and audiences.
It has been long thought that Facebook was behind the game where hashtags are involved, many marketers use the hashtag functionality in Twitter to launch products and services… and now the mind boggles as to what we can do with hashtags on a site with a greater reach of 1 billion+ users in comparison to Twitter’s 200 million active users.
Marketers and business owners are going to need to be smart about how they use hashtags in an marketing campaigns so that they don’t amount to wasted time and money – or worse, harm the brand. This is because “Every day, hundreds of millions of people use Facebook to share their thoughts on big moments happening all around them,” says Facebook’s Greg Lindley. “Whether it’s talking about a favorite television show, cheering on a hometown sports team or engaging with friends during a breaking news event—people on Facebook connect with their friends about what’s taking place all over the world.”
When you click on a hashtag in Facebook it will create a new page – and you will be taken to a results page that looks like this:
**courtesy of webpronews
So as you can see – it literally clumps all conversations about San Francisco together, making it really easy to join a conversation.
This is going to be a relatively easy leap for business owners and marketers to use Facebook hashtagging as part of their campaigns… as they are already doing it for Twitter – but the main difference is that it will hit a much larger audience giving your chosen topic a lot more airtime. Which means that it will allow campaigns to flourish across multiple social networks.
There are a couple of hashtag strategies that you can implement – branding being the most popular.. for example if I was to run a branding hashtag strategy for nexus I would simply use #nexus, but say I wanted to promote my content around Facebook hashtagging I could sponsor the hashtag #facebookhashtag as a trending topic and then my tweets or now Facebook statuses would be seen first amongst my peers. You can also use hashtagging for crowdsourcing – which literally means your fans share content, or even gaining follows and link backs with hashtag competitions.
When I take a look at the way these clickable hashtags are going to work in Facebook, one advantage that is screaming out to me, is that they are almost creating a website for you. You will literally be able to use tagging and hashtags together to really boost your marketing.
A word of caution though – if you do decide to use hashtagging as a campaign, be aware that users can “hijack the brand” – they can turn what you think is a great campaign into a deep dark chasm of negativity around a brand. I am sure we can all think of some tweets and hashtag comments that have gone very wrong.
Facebook says this is the very first step in a broader “public conversations” initiative. I as a marketer, am very excited at this prospect, but I will definitely be doing my homework and due diligence to ensure that I can take full advantage of the huge reach that Facebook mow offers all business owners and marketers.
Good luck folks – this is set to change the way we reach people! #excited!
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