Finally! As many of you know, this week Facebook announced that hashtags (#) are clickable. Similar to the hashtag capabilities of Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, you can now add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion.
When you click on a hashtag in Facebook, “you’ll see a feed of what other people and Pages are saying about that event or topic,” according to a Facebook blog post.
For those that are unfamiliar, a hashtag — a word or a phrase prefixed with the # symbol — added to your content (ideally optimized with relevant keywords) is simply a way for you to search for tweets (and now Facebook posts) that have a common topic.
As Facebook explains in their recent announcement:
“Now you can:
• Search for a specific hashtag from your search bar. For example, #NBAFinals.
• Click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram.
• Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.
As always, you control the audience for your posts, including those with hashtags.
[pullquote align=”right”]Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations.[/pullquote]Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations. We’ll continue to roll out more features in the coming weeks and months, including trending hashtags and deeper insights, that help people discover more of the world’s conversations.”
The potential use of hashtags for your small business could be endless. Here are three quick ways to start optimizing your company’s Facebook posts with hashtags for maximum impact:
1. Take a page from the SEO playbook and focus your keyword strategy.
Develop a short list of the most common terms that people search for pertaining to your products and services. For example, when conducting keyword research you may want to “find a phrase that meets these criteria: many people are searching for it (high search volume), and you have a realistic chance of ranking relative to other sites (low competition),” according to Orbit Media Solutions. If you haven’t already, create a keyword list using tools like Overture Keyword Tool or Keyword Discovery.
2. Use hashtags sparingly and in a targeted fashion.
Don’t go “hashtag” crazy and forget how to coherently communicate on social networks. Follow Internet marketing conventional wisdom and as Hubspot recommends “You really want to boil it down to a list of the 3-5 most important individual words,” and use them consistently to avoid appearing “spammy”.
3. Keep hashtags consistent across social networks.
If you already use specific hashtags on Twitter or Instagram, simply keep doing what works and include them in your Facebook conversations as well. It’s really important to manage your messages across platforms so online users won’t become easily confused about who you are and what you do.
Silverpop writer Philo Howard attests to how important message consistency really is: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my 15 years in sales (mostly selling software), it’s that a lot of businesses don’t deliver a consistent, cohesive message when communicating with buyers. This can confuse prospects and customers, which may open the door to your competitor. Bottom line: When your marketing message is jumbled, you hurt your … well … bottom line.”
Keep this in mind before you add twenty hashtags to one Facebook post.
Bonus: Remember hashtag is a search.
As ReadWriteWeb explains, “remember that a hashtag is a search. They’re meant to label a topic or filter a conversation.” So ensure that your hashtags are actually relevant to your business or you could potentially alienate and annoy online users.
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