Facebook #Hashtags

Facebook hashtagsAs many of you already heard, last week Facebook began rolling out hashtags.  The rollout will continue over the coming weeks until all users have the new feature.  Since hashtags were already being used by many on Facebook, this is a welcome new feature.

To be clear, what this feature means is that the hashtags will be clickable and grouped together on a page.  Each hashtag will have its own unique Facebook URL with a status update box at the top.  This is great news, because it means you can drive traffic to that URL from your site, Blog or other social platforms to engage users and create even more conversation.

(Please note, during the rollout, hashtags may not be clickable for you yet, however you should still start using them because other users are able to click them already.)

For those that don’t know, a hashtag is a word or acronym used within a post designed to organize content related to a topic, making it easier for users to find that content and connect.

In 2007, Twitter user Chris Messina created the hashtag.  Since its inception, the hashtag has grown and it has now been integrated into other platforms, including Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+ and Instagram.

Right now, you can’t search for posts in Facebook Graph Search, but you can search for hashtags. You can also search for hashtags by typing them into the main search box on top of Facebook.

There is not currently a feature on Facebook that allows you to see popular or trending tags on Facebook. Users have noted that typing words into the search bar beginning with # doesn’t result in any suggestions.  This is a feature Facebook plans to add in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Hashtags can be used on all public posts on Facebook, which means you can use them on your personal profile and Fan/Business page.

It’s also worth mentioning that hashtags are not yet clickable on mobile but they do work on the desktop version if you posted them on mobile.  So be sure to include them even if you are posting from mobile.

Social media always works best when you have a strategic plan in place and you know what your goals and objectives are.  It’s no different with hashtags.  So take a few minutes to think about how you will use them.  Consider your industry and target market, check out trending hashtags in your industry, look at tags you use on your other social media platforms.  Ideally your strategy will consist of using newly created tags related to your branding and some existing popular tags that are relevant to your product/service/messages.

Simple hashtags are often most effective because the topic is clearly presented and users are more likely to search for something simple.  For example, a user wanting info on SEO is likely to search for #SEO but something like #WhiteHatSEOForSmallBusinessOwners is not likely to get as much exposure.

Avoid hashtag abuse.  It does no good and you end up looking like an idiot. Not sure what I mean by hashtag abuse?  Have you seen those #people #who #hashtag #every #word #in #their #post?  Not cool.  Also not helpful. Hashtags are only truly effective when you focus on targeting the right people and connecting.  You can tap into more traffic if you hashtag every word, but how much of that traffic is actually going to help you?

Social media is always about quality over quantity.

Using capital letters will make it easier to read the tags.  Example: #SocialMediaHelp is easier to read than #socialmediahelp.  When tags aren’t easily read, confusion ensues.

Did you see the trending tag #nowthatcherisdead?  Instantly there was chaos as cher fans thought she was dead.  People were reading the tag as: #NowThatCherIsDead but it was really an announcement of Margaret Thatcher’s death, and should have read #NowThatcherIsDead.  See how capitalization is important to avoid confusion? It’s only a little bit of extra effort to hit that shift key and capitalize your letters.  J

Keep your hashtags short and sweet. It’s much harder to gain exposure and create a conversation around longer hashtags.  For example: #SocialMediaTrainingSystemForBizOwners is going to be harder to get going than #SocialMediaHelp or even #SocialMediaTraining.

Have you noticed some trending hashtags but aren’t sure what they mean?  You can check it out on the sites I’ve listed below.  They allow you to monitor hashtags and determine the true meaning of them.  Doing research before you join a conversation is always a good idea.  The best sites are:

  • www.whatthetrend.com
  • http://twubs.com/
  • http://hashtags.org

Remember that hashtags are public – anyone searching for that tag will be able to see your content.  Be smart about your strategy, you don’t want it to backfire.  Enough has been written about the McDonalds hashtag issue for us to realize that things can go bad quickly.  That doesn’t mean you don’t want to use them, it just means you want to be smart.

Be careful with abbreviations.  What an abbreviation means to you is not the same as what it may mean to others.  Be sure to check for existing tags before you start using an abbreviation you may regret.  For example, #SS could mean social security, or super sexy or single serving.  You just don’t know until you check it out.

Take some time to get to know hashtags and then create a strategy to implement them into your Facebook marketing.  Social media is all about balance, you want to take the time to get it right but you also don’t want to let this trend pass you by as you do weeks or research.  Get yourself up to speed and get your hashtags implemented now.

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