Background Brief

On the 12th June Facebook launched the ability to put hashtags in posts. Twitter, Google+ and Instagram all use hashtags. It’s been said Facebook have moved into this market to make more advertising revenues which on the outset may not be clear how. We will explore that within this article.

Current Usage

Amongst the early adopters are the big brands. A report by Simply Measured found that 8% of 100 brands surveyed used hashtags in their Facebook posts on the first day of their launch.

This has slowly ramped up and now one in four brands are now using hashtags in their posts.

Out of the 100 brands surveyed it was found that 56% of the brands have used a hashtag in a Facebook post in the last two weeks since they were launched.

How they work

When you do a search for hashtags in Facebook Graph Search you are given a list of all recent posts that have been made using Facebook hashtags, either directly on Facebook or indirectly.

Also if you are viewing a post that includes a hashtag you can click on it and it will give you a feed of all the latest hashtags. At the end of the day hashtags are about bringing together a conversation or discussion on a particular topic.

Currently you can’t search in Facebook for trending hashtags, however Facebook has said that this will change.

Why have Facebook launched Hashtags?

Well it is strongly believed it is to do with the Super Bowl and the massive amount of exposure that Twitter was getting through it’s use of hashtags, and respectively Facebook who don’t use them lost out on the social battle.

The whole purpose of advertising during the Super Bowl is to make great advertising that is socially great, which leads to huge word of mouth, virality and therefore lends itself greatly for a multi-channel strategy that involves social media. Statistics show that 50% of Super Bowl adverts mentioned Twitter, because the use of hashtags allows people to engage in conversations and increases the virality of the commercials and therefore the brands.

Facebook lost out, only 8% of adverts mentioned them. With Facebook launching hashtags it means that an integrated online and offline strategy is more integrated with multiple social channels which is great for end user consumers also who want to engage with great content.

Benefits of Hashtags to Social Media

Hashtags are very loose in their usage, allowing users to use hashtags for pretty much any term and in any circumstance.

Hashtags can often be spelt incorrectly which for advertisers can be a barrier to getting hashtags trending.

Hashtags can also be used to express emotion, for example “we just achieved £1 million turnover, #awesome”.

Using hashtags will increase the exposure of content on social media. Using the correct hashtags is important to maximise this exposure and reaching target audience.

Benefits to Consumers

As consumers we are now able to engage in conversations with people through hashtags and brings down the barriers between consumers and companies.

Bear in mind however that posts made with hashtags in will be made public as they will be part of a public conversation. So if you do not want your information going into the public domain we would suggest not using a hashtag. Obviously…

Marketing Benefits

How can marketers best use hashtags?

But that said, with the privacy filters on Facebook it is likely that conversation streams are not a clear representation of what is being discussed, and many status updates may not be included in the conversation where users are protecting their privacy. At the moment it is just a stream of information, and is not a source of top quality content within a topic.

For marketers it is a big opportunity to gain relevant traffic from targeted consumers using hashtags in updates. Making use hashtags aren’t excessively used will help consumers feel like they are not being spammed. Make sure they are used in a targeted way, one or maybe two is reasonable.

There is no question that Facebook hashtags will increase connections and engagement on Facebook and businesses should maximise the opportunity to use hashtags in their marketing efforts.