You may have heard that #hashtags are a pretty big deal these days. They show up everywhere – from TV shows, the news, to print ads. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ have had them for a while, and now Facebook is getting into the game. Here’s why.
What the heck is a hashtag?
Good question! Let’s start with the basics.
Hashtags originally came about on Twitter by users looking for a better way to find similar conversations happening on the platform. Here’s an example:
I can’t believe @NikWallenda walked across the Grand Canyon! Wow. #skywire
Let’s decode it.
@NikWallenda = Nik Wallenda’s username on Twitter. We’re “mentioning” him in this tweet so that he gets notified.
#skywire = The hashtag used to talk about Nik’s tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon. We knew to use it since it was on the live TV broadcast in the corner of the screen. Using the hashtag in our tweet ensures that it shows up when people search for and follow the conversations happening about Nik’s #skywire walk.
OK. Now that we have a slightly better understanding of why hashtags are used, let’s apply it to Facebook.
Why Facebook hashtags are a big deal
Let’s say you’re a high-end retailer interested in connecting with brand enthusiasts in your area. With Facebook’s recent support of hashtags, you can now search for local people talking about a specific brand. How? In Facebook’s search box, enter #SamEdelman (or whatever brand or topic you want to search). You’ll then see a list of the results. Simple as that.
You can also write a post and become part of the conversation. For example, you might share something like, “Anyone see the new #SamEdelman sandals that just came out?” Then, when others search for #SamEdelman, your post will appear. This is a great way to create exposure for your company, which can then lead to relationships and business with your target audience.
6 tips for using Facebook hashtags
- Interact with fans and non-fans alike by clicking a hashtag to display conversations with posts using that hashtag.
- Gain deeper insight into how you are perceived by monitoring live conversations about your brand and “listening” using specific hashtags.
- Research your competitors by identifying their hashtags and checking them regularly to see what they are up to and how you may be able to adapt some of their more successful strategies.
- Meet key influencers in your industry by following popular hashtags and starting a conversation by commenting on their posts.
- Track promotions, campaigns and events by creating unique hashtags for your promotion, campaign or event and monitoring the activity.
- Connect with your target audience across multiple social networks by identifying popular hashtags in your industry and linking your brand with the most recently trending topics for great exposure.
Why we think Facebook made the move
Hashtags work. That’s why users created them on Twitter years ago. With so many people using them across different platforms, Facebook was the odd man out.
And, since a lot of people “cross post” the same message (including hashtags) across a bunch of social platforms, it only made sense for Facebook to leverage that trend and make them searchable within their platform.
In addition, Facebook has been losing its “cool” for a little while now. They can thank Twitter, Instagram and the other newer social platforms for that. Plus, people (us included!) are seeing a lot of ads on Facebook making it less about us and more about revenue for Facebook. Adding hashtag support likely won’t change any of that, but at least Facebook is keeping up with social trends.
It’s amazing how quickly all of this moves, isn’t it?
What do you think? Will you be using hashtags on Facebook?