#Hashtags coming to Facebook has been a source of intense debate within the Search & Social circles for the past week.
Their arrival on the 12th June brought with it flurries of Tweets, status updates and Google+ noise. The roll out has been the fastest I have ever seen from Facebook (I’m still waiting on Graph Search, hint hint Facebook) with a promise to allow the feature to be accessed by everyone within the next few weeks so says
Many digital marketers may well be asking themselves the question:
Should I tell my Clients they must now utilise this new feature in their Social strategies!?
To help answer this, and many other questions, here are the top 4 main pros and cons of using Facebook hashtags commercially; I hope I can ease your mind and your strategy documents somewhat.
If you’re a brand, you will benefit from this change. Sort of.
Let’s say you’re launching something pretty amazing or running an event that will result in a huge social media buzz; the hashtag feature will allow you to essentially place yourself directly in front of your target audience without having to use Graph Search to assist in your Facebook demographic research.
The British and Irish Lions tour is all over the Twitter-sphere when a match is on; it’s a highly ‘trendable’ topic, with lots of discussion, advocacy and opinion.
I could type a status update with #Lions:
Or simply search for the hashtag:
Essentially, you can see the discussion your hashtag is instigating across a closed network. Create ‘public’ advocacy campaigns campaigns to encourage public status updates etc.
You place your brand right under your customers’ noses.
You can’t yet search for trending topics or filter your results by the hashtag function. Hashtags are in their very early stages so I’m sure this will change.
Also, the privacy settings on Facebook will mean that the ‘traditional’ hashtag campaigns that work so well on Twitter may not translate onto Facebook.
Facebook’s privacy settings mean that if you don’t want a post to be public, it won’t be. Which means of course that your average, run of the mill, super-boring activities won’t show on within a Facebook hashtag stream:
Therefore, the only conversations you’ll see on Facebook hashtag searches are those from public pages or public status updates.
This means that your public posts aren’t competing with the volume of other sources a Tweet withhashtag is; you’re simply competing with a percentage of public updates and other brand feeds. This makes competitor research a LOT more informative.
The privacy settings make targeting your actual customers a bit more challenging; the reason people use Facebook is totally different to the reason people use Twitter.
In a very quick survey of theReceptional HQ, I asked the question:
Why do you use Facebook?
The majority answered to keep in touch with family and friends, to update everyone who cares about their lives, to nose on other’s profiles, to keep up to date with birthdays and to generally stalk people.
I also asked:
Why do you use Twitter?
To which the majority replied that they used it to keep on top of current affairs, learn from Influencers, share knowledge, read news stories and to keep on top of the latest celebrity gossip.
Trying to take one network and turn it into another has never been done successfully; ever. Many have triedand they have all failed (*cough* Google+Pinterest *cough*). As digital marketers, our demographic research is pivotal; we have to remember that hashtags on Facebook must never be as invasive or emotive as they may be on Twitter.
Commenting on a random person’s status update that happens to share the same hashtag as you may result in some very raised eyebrows:
Morale of the story, if you don’t know someone personally, engaging with them on this network is currently a faux pas.
Facebook is suddenly trying to get on with other Social Networks! Facebook Studio stated:
‘Any hashtags that you use on other platforms that are connected to your Facebook Page will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.’ Which essentially means that whenever you upload your Instagram shots or link your Twitter and Facebook together, the hashtags are now hyperlinked.
This can make scheduling your bulk multi-campaign updates pretty easy if you’re pushed for time.
If you use Facebook like Twitter or Instagram, you WILL lose customers. Think about the function Facebook hashtags currently provide; there is currently no way to search for trending topicsand if my previous con to point number 2 is anything to go by, you will know by now that emotive updates may not work here the way they do on Twitter or Instagram.
Instead, think of new ways to use this function in a manner that is not intrusive.
Suddenly your current audience is met with something they can interact with on their timelines that stretches past the dreaded ‘link’. Curiosity may mean they engage with your brand directly from their timeline; if it’s a competition you may get a higher click through rate to your bespoke application. Huzzah!
Using a hashtag won’t mean your post is boosted within a timeline setting; that will still be all down to its content. Pictures and videos still reign supreme on Facebook – simply adjusting your Tweets and pushing them out on Facebook will not be enough to boost the viral Reach.
Utilised and made famous by Twitter, hashtags are a ‘conversation stream’ – a way to take a particular thought, opinion, event or name and turn it into an online trend. Longevity in this case, is not something the hashtag looks for, as an addition to your Facebook engagement strategy I would advise to view the hashtag as the garnish. Take ASOS and the #BeACreator as an example:
While their hashtag hasn’t been engaged with publically on Facebook, the post works because of heavy image content and target market appeal – don’t forget this when formulating a Facebook strategy that incorporates a hashtag.
The content MUST be strong to succeed within this network; the hashtag is the parsley, the text and image are the steak. Too much parsley and you’re going to have a very unhappy customer on your hand. Unless they are vegetarian, in which case swop steak for a butternut squash.