Social media network Facebook has announced that it will be rolling out the use of hashtags in the status updates of individuals and companies.
A hashtag is a clickable word which is preceded with the symbol #, and allows users to keep track of trending topics. The feature was first introduced byTwitter, but has now become very popular with other social media networks such as Pinterest and Google+. The use of hashtags on Facebook follows the same principle as its use on other social media platforms, however there are some slight differences.
So what does the new feature mean for brands?
More engagement and discovery
Hashtags are useful for businesses and professional organisations that want to engage with their target audience and participate in discussions on a specific topic as they unfold in real time, such as an event or debate. Previously a number of Facebook users and brands were already using the hashtag sign, despite them being unclickable. Now, when a user enters a hashtag into the search bar, they will be able to follow and join in the discussion. This is very valuable for businesses that are looking to continuously build their brand awareness online, and to connect with their target audience and likeminded professionals.
A more targeted Pay-Per-Click Campaign
Those using Facebook Pay-Per-Click will be pleased to hear that their campaigns have now become more cost effective. When a user includes a hashtag in a status, a brand may not be able to read it, but its targeted ads will now be able to reach users a lot easier.
Greater connectivity between platforms
Many brands link their Facebook account to their other social media accounts. This means that now when the hashtag is used in, say an Instagram post, the hashtag will be clickable and appear in the search results when it is automatically posted onto their Facebook page. This is particularly useful for brands wanting to integrate their hashtag campaigns into Facebook as well.
Currently when a user searches a brand's hashtag campaign on search engines, it is likely that Twitter results will be the first ones shown. As the inclusion of hashtags on Facebook progresses this could soon change.
For those worried about the privacy of their personal profiles if they use hashtags, be rest assured that your account settings will not be affected. Facebook has stated that when personal profiles share a post, only their friends will be able to see it, whereas if a business or company shares a post on its page, anyone who clicks on that hashtag can see the post because it’s public.
From a marketers point of view, we think that it is great feature for businesses to aim their status updates to a wider audience and will allow them to maximise their online visibility. We only wish that it had come along sooner.
Facebook has already stated that hashtags are just one of many features that it will introduce to highlight events and discussions. Another change to expect from Facebook is a revamped version of Notes, which will become more of a blogging platform for users and could further develop the use and need for hashtags.