The Power of the Hashtag: Facebook Edition

by Alison Lee, Intern

 

facebook-hashtagWith the official indictment of the word “tweet” into the Oxford Dictionary (as a verb and noun), it’s only proper to acknowledge the other leaps and bounds social media is taking; the most recent being Facebook’s incorporation of the hashtag. Up until now, Facebook was the only major social media outlet without this utility, while the likes of Instagram and Google+ had it since the beginning.

What does a hashtag actually do? For starters, it says what you don’t include in a caption. More importantly, it creates a thread with every person who uses the same hashtag. The hashtag cultivates awareness and sometimes even action under certain circumstances. It connects Game of Thrones (#GoT) viewers during the season finale, and virtually gathers both the attending and the absent at a conference or convention (#WWDC).

Brands with a social media presence have incorporated Twitter in their marketing strategies for a while now—and for good reason. The hashtag has allowed organizations and individuals to be part of a larger conversation and the trend opens up opportunities for exposure. Now that Facebook’s finally on the bandwagon, does this actually change anything for branding?

  1. Brands become searchable – Finding a brand’s Facebook page used to entail entering a website address, clicking on social media icons on the brand’s site or a stumbling upon the page through ads or the like. Now, hashtags on Facebook allow users to find a brand’s page using simple key words, not specific company names.
  2. Extended outreach and visibility – Unlike Twitter, Facebook has page privacy options; this means that if only friends are able to view your profile, random strangers cannot find you through a hashtag. When the privacy settings are turned off and all page content is publicly available, brands provide access to users to end up on their page, even if unintentional. Companies can be part of the conversation and have their status updates seen by anybody who searches the included hashtag.
  3. Monitor conversations – PR people know from Twitter that this is a huge advantage. A campaign with its own hashtag means any person can follow what is being said and who is talking about it. Conversations on social media also serve as an informal platform for feedback. Strategists can observe users’ reactions, personal experiences and opinions of the brand and take action accordingly.
  4. Promoted hashtags coming soon – Ever notice those promoted tweets at the top of your feed? Facebook will soon offer the hashtag promotion as well, but not right now. Upon its availability, however, brands that are serious about gaining exposure and reaching out to as many publics as possible should definitely look into this. The immense traffic measured on Facebook is a gold mine for brands itching to be seen and heard.

Though the use of hashtags on Facebook is not revolutionary, it is a necessary extension for brands that want to commit to a consistent image and outreach on social media. How far these hashtags will take a brand on Facebook—we’ll find out soon enough.

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