Facebook has officially embraced the online reality of the Twitter-originating hashtags — which means businesses will have to add these new Facebook tools to their list of social marketing considerations. If you are unaware of what a hashtag is, the concept is easy to understand and can provide your business with powerful free marketing. With a little practice, you will be able to use hashtags as another effective tool for spreading the word about your business through social media.
What is a hashtag?
The hashtag was first used on Twitter back in 2007. It was a useful way to categorize something you were talking about so others could find it. Adding a pound sign before a word or phrase, like this — #hashtag — enabled others to find your posts in their general searches. In this example, you could search for Twitter conversations about hashtags, and results that used #hashtag would show up.
How to use hashtags
Facebook’s recent announcement that it will include hashtags has businesses scrambling to learn how to use them. This is a good thing, though, as hashtags offer companies one more way to create community around their brands, which is vital to foster brand advocates and generate sales.
Basic use of hashtags is easy. If you sell surfboards, for instance, each post you make to Facebook should probably contain #surfboards in it, along with other related terms, such as #surfing, #sunandsurf, #surfsup, etc. Think of terms people might associate with your post, and create hashtags for them. When someone goes looking for #surfboards, your content will be included.
Some companies get even more inventive with hashtags. You have probably seen hashtags showing up in the corner of your television for larger marketing campaigns, such as the Brilliant Machines campaign from GE. The hashtag #brilliantmachines tied the entire campaign together across Twitter, Instagram and the rest of the web.
You may not be at the point of creating a giant media blitz around your own hashtag, but you can start experimenting with them in your general Facebook marketing attempts. You can even use a business credit card to set up a Facebook ad account, if you want to take your marketing efforts a little further than hashtags.
Avoid hashtag spamming
A few well-selected hashtags will make your posts more relevant to Facebook users, but keep in mind that too many hashtags just looks spammy and desperate. You should have a targeted audience — searchers for #surfboards, for instance. But that does not mean you should try to pull in #beaches, #bleachedhair and #flipflops as well.
Stay targeted. It will improve your results and prevent you from breaking hashtag etiquette.
Good for business
Ultimately, Facebook’s adoption of hashtags means users will have a more direct way to discover your brand, and you will have a better way to reach them
with your posts. Do not let the technology intimidate you. Hashtags are easy to use, and you can incorporate them into your marketing strategy quickly, but only the most focused strategies will succeed in the sea of hashtags.
How does your business plan on incorporating hashtags into its social media marketing strategy? Share in the comments.
Image Credit: Joe