File this one under "It's About Time." Today, in a post on its news blog, Facebook announced it would finally be rolling out functional, clickable hashtags. Hallelujah (#NoSarcasm).
Facebook indicates the update is in response to the fact that until now, "there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what's happening or what people are talking about." We couldn't agree more. Content discovery has definitely been a major weakness of Facebook -- especially for marketers -- so it's encouraging to see the social network making changes to improve.
Facebook also hints that hashtags are just the first of many features to come (such as trending hashtags and deeper insights) that aim to help users discover interesting discussions around public events, people, and topics on Facebook.
The Scoop on Facebook Hashtags
Likening them to the clickable hashtags on sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, Facebook explains that hashtags will enable users to add more context to their posts or link them to a larger topic or discussion already happening on Facebook. When clicking on a hashtag in Facebook, users will be presented with a feed of what others are posting about that particular event or topic.
Here's how Facebook hashtags work ...
Facebook Hashtag Functionality
- The ability to search for specific hashtags via the Facebook search bar
- The ability to click on hashtags that originate from other services, like Instagram
- The ability to create new posts from within the hashtag feed and search results
- The ability to add hashtags to Facebook ads you're running
How to Use Facebook Hashtags
It's simple, really. To create a hashtag, just put # in front of the topic or phrase you want to use (no spaces), and add it to your post. For example, if we were promoting our INBOUND 2013 conference, we might do something like this ...
What's more, #INBOUND13 is the hashtag we're universally using to promote INBOUND -- it can also be found on Twitter, etc. This helps us unify our INBOUND promotion across social networks.
When Facebook users click on the hashtag in a post, they’ll see a feed of posts that have been shared with them that have also been tagged with that hashtag. So if you share a hashtagged post with just your friends, only your friends will see the post in that hashtag's feed. However, if you want your hashtagged posts to be dicoverable by all Facebook users, be sure to make them public for all to see.
Facebook Hashtag Tips for Marketers
Most of you probably aren't strangers to the concept of the hashtag and its use for marketing, so we won't get too detailed here considering we've already covered it comprehensively in this post about how to use hashtags on Twitter. (While specifically geared toward Twitter, most of the tips are applicable to hashtag use across various social networks.)
Hashtags are a great way for marketers to unify their promotions across multiple channels, increase the discoverability of their content, and centralize engagement with certain content, promotions, events, etc.
Hashtag Tips for Marketers
- When creating a brand new hashtag, make sure the hashtag is original and not already in use by someone else.
- Incorporate industry or branded keywords.
- Be careful about sentiments. Remember the McDonald's hashtag fiasco?
- Promote the hashtag by incorporating it into other marketing channels like email, landing pages, other social networks, etc.
- Don't hijack popular hashtags that aren't relevant to your content. It's spammy, like in this example (see #8).
- Keep it short. While you don't really have to worry about character count on Facebook, you do if you're using the same hashtag on a site like Twitter where you do need to consider character limitations.
- Make sure your hashtagged posts are public. I'm not sure why you wouldn't be making your marketing posts public anyway, but yeah, don't overlook this.
- Incorporate hashtags into your Facebook ads!
Currently, hashtags are available only to a small percentage of people and pages on Facebook, but Facebook indicates it will roll them out more comprehensively in the coming weeks.
So ... who's excited?