Facebook Hashtags: Tips for Marketers and Small Businesses

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facebook announces hashtagsThe big argument for using Twitter for marketing has been that you can see what others are talking about, even if they are not in your network. Facebook is out to change that.

Facebook today announced its much awaited feature: Hashtags.

“Starting today, hashtags will be clickable on Facebook. Similar to other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, hashtags on Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion.”

The same announcement also mentioned the future enhancements:

“Trending hashtags and deeper insights, that help people discover more of the world’s conversation.”

Like all the other Facebook features, this roll-out will be phased so it might be some time before it is available to all users. Given the large user base, this is going to have a huge impact, and the general familiarity with the concept of #hashtags will make sure that the adaptation will be quick. So what does this mean for marketers?

Graph search will become more powerful

Hashtags combined with the the recent updates like “Adding What You’re Doing to Status Updates” and “Verfied Pages and Profiles” will help Facebook improve its graph search. And more relevant results would mean more people would use the Facebook to search things.

  • Proactive tip: Optimize your Facebook presence for search.
  • Proactive tip: Optimize your web presence for Bing (when Facebook doesn’t have enough data on search terms, it shows Bing results).
  • Reactive tip: Keep a closer watch on social referrals for your website.

Expert discussions and debates will increase

So far Twitter and Quora have been preferred platforms for subject matter experts or those who like to give their two cents on everything. With hashtags it will be easier for these individuals to participate in public conversations on Facebook. Expect more unwanted advice and heated debates. This will no doubt include all the positive and negative conversations about brands and businesses!

  • Proactive tip: Start conversations on Facebook about your brand or industry and encourage public discussion.
  • Proactive tip: Encourage your employees and especially domain experts to have better public profile on Facebook.
  • Reactive tip: Set aside more time for social media monitoring, or if you are using some monitoring tool make sure you log in more often.

Privacy concerns will increase

A large group of Facebook users is not tech-savvy and don’t tweak their privacy controls. Which would mean their conversations might be public without them realizing it, and strangers might read and comment. This combined with the need for professionals to use their Facebook profile for business discussions, will reduce the charm of Facebook as a personal social network. Prepare for the rise of newer more niche networks (like Path or App.net) to fulfill this need.

Proactive tip: Keep talking to your customers and prospects to understand where do they spend time online and observe the change over time.

In short, this is going to mean more work for marketers. Let me quickly summarise the tips:

Proactive:

  • Optimize your Facebook presence for search.
  • Optimize your web presence for Bing.
  • Start conversations on Facebook about your brand or industry and encourage public discussion.
  • Encourage your employees and especially domain experts to have better public profile on Facebook.
  • Keep talking to your customers and prospects to understand where do they spend time online and observe the change over time.

Reactive tips

  • Keep a closer watch on social referrals for your website.
  • Set aside more time for social media monitoring, or if you are using some monitoring tool make sure you log in more often.

Have you started using hashtags in Facebook yet? What do you think this will mean for your business?

Click here for examples of how you can use hashtags (and how other small businesses are using them).

About Nilesh

Nilesh has worked in the IT industry for nine years, and is both a PMP and an MBA in marketing. He has worked in and with small businesses, managing projects, leading teams, and improving business processes.At Markitty, Nilesh translates requirements into tasks and timelines. He jumps into whatever is needed, whether it’s marketing, design, or technical architecture. He also keeps the others sane with his intermittent wisecracking.

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