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By: Kelly Cooper, Marketing Manager, ShopIgniter

Hashtags have long been used by social networking sites like Twitter and Instagram to categorize tweets and posts, helping them show up more easily in searches. With the introduction of hashtags to the Facebook network, marketers should be prepared to begin seeing hashtags in posts, and available in Graph Search.

There are distinct implications this change has for marketers and how they can leverage hashtags on Facebook.  With this introduction in mind, here are a few tips and tricks for success when it comes to hashtags and Facebook Graph Search.

  1. Start incorporating hashtags in your Facebook posts so users looking for related topics can easily find your updates. Branded hashtags have been a popular tactic on other social networks and can now be brought into the Facebook ecosystem, providing fans with an easy way to search for and engage with your conversations.Continuity in hashtags across social networks also helps to boost consumers’ ability to find and engage with your brand, while repetition helps increase the memorability of your hashtags. Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, for example, showcases #‎casebackthursday in which it engages fans weekly, asking them to post their limited-edition caseback engravings. This type of hashtag-specific fan engagement is ideal to continue-over to Facebook.Untitled1
  2. As with Twitter, be sure not to #spam #all #fans #with #toomanyhashtags. Instead, slowly start incorporating hashtags into your daily posting; monitor how the “hashtag posts” perform compared to your other posts, hone your post strategy and continually analyze and optimize. Although Facebook rolled out a new Insights update in June that shows average reach and engagement by post type, “hashtag posts” are not broken out. As a result, to see how the new post types perform, you’ll need to export a post level data report as an excel spreadsheet from Insights. From here, create a pivot table to help summarize the data by the metrics that are most important to you, such as organic reach, virality, etc. Take a look at the post copy of your top performers and if hashtag posts are driving the results you desire, then by all means, keep ‘em coming!
  3. Be sure that your hashtags are relevant to both your audience and to the post content/copy. As with Twitter and Instagram, research hashtags before you use them to ensure they are not being used by competitors, or in ways you don’t want associated with your brand or campaign.

Now that you have established a hashtag strategy for Facebook, remember that hashtags in the post, not comments, are searchable. While this means that someone will not be able to hijack your post into a conversation stream, it may also mean you may not be able to listen to all conversations that include your hashtag. In this vein, remember, too, that privacy controls trump hashtags. Unlike Twitter, you will not be able to see every mention of your hashtag. Regardless, with so many Facebook users, your Graph Search of hashtags should give you a good idea of how any given conversation is trending.

If I were to give a prognostication, next on the horizon for Facebook Graph Search and hashtags is the distinct possibility that we will see them appear as yet another advertising targeting option. In the not too distant future, not only will you be able to target users who have downloaded specific apps, listened to particular artists, and/or have a unique set of interests etc. but with hashtags, marketers will also have the ability to target based on user post copy. At the end of the day, as with all things Facebook, expect more changes and prepare to remain agile; don’t lose sight of your business goals, and continue to analyze, hone, and measure.

Kelly Cooper is Marketing Manager at ShopIgniter where she drives digital community around the intersection of social media, brand and product marketing. Kelly has a rich consumer marketing background, promoting and selling products online for a variety of retail brands with categories ranging from consumer electronics to specialty foods.

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