When mere mortals heard about hashtags coming into Facebook, most of them asked “What for?”
For them it’s really not something to be crazy about, because it’s a feature they usually associate with Twitter and frankly, it’s a little awkward to see it on Facebook status updates. Besides, Facebook has for years ruled social networking even without such a thing.
But in the business world, it’s a gift straight from the marketing gods.
Bringing hashtags to Facebook just opened a huge door for marketers to take advantage of its 1+ billion monthly active users. Although a majority of these hashtags will be used by average people for common topics (#nowplaying, #retweetthisif, or #throwbackthursday), some of it will definitely be brand-related (#starbucks, #iphone) or interest-driven (#blogging, #baking) and that’s something marketers could make use of. Here’s the rub:
- Hashtags facilitate content discovery. As soon as hashtags started to gain momentum on Facebook, it became easier for content marketers to route users into finding their desired content. This new convenience can help in community building as well as in collecting target market information to be used for analysis and lead generation.
- Hashtags are unrestricted. There’s practically no rule in creating hashtags. You can invent one as you please, and capitalization doesn’t affect it (#YouTube is the same as #youtube). Plus, you can easily go to hashtag search results by using a URL, for example, www.facebook.com/hashtags/forbes500 will show you the results of posts with the hashtag #forbes500.
- Hashtags can jump across platforms. By the numbers, there are a lot more tweets every 60 seconds (546,000) than there are status updates (293,000), so hashtags are more powerful on Twitter. But that power becomes exponentially amplified once you link it to Facebook, which obviously has twice more in number of users (1.1 billion > 554 million).
- Hashtags are great for promoting events. You’ve probably noticed how contests on TV encourage viewers to share their comments by using a specific hashtag on their tweets. It’s a very effective way to channel all respondents into one basin and voila – you now have an inventory of interested people. You can apply the same concept for your marketing trade shows and events.
- Hashtags will soon “trend” on Facebook, too. The ranking of “trending” topics on Facebook is still in the works, but once it rolls out, it will further strengthen the efforts of marketers to attract attention for their brands. Of course, this also means that in the not-so-distant future, Facebook will (and rather inevitably) allow advertisers to pay for trending topics just like what Twitter is currently doing. That’s another point for the marketing scoreboard. #ftw