Hashtags are synonymous with Twitter. We all saw that video with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake #hashtagging #absolutely #everything. But hashtags are also making an appearance on other social networks. They’re now allowed on Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and even Facebook. Since June of this year, hashtags have become very much a trend on Facebook and marketers are learning how to utilize them for branding purposes. But if you’re not quite sure how to use them, here are some guidelines for how and when to use hashtags for your marketing purposes.
How Hashtags on Facebook Work
Hashtags work on Facebook exactly like they do on all the other social sites, except they’re given a unique Facebook URL. Including the “#” symbol before a word or phrase turns it into a clickable link. When people click on these links, they’re presented with a list of public posts that have that hashtag included. Facebook jumped on board with the idea of hashtags after seeing their success on Twitter. And just like on Twitter, using hashtags on Facebook can expand your reach and build brand presence.
If someone is interested in say, employee advocacy, they can click on #employeeadvocacy in a post and then they’ll be able to browse a list of posts that include that hashtag. If you’ve included #employeeadvocacy in your article, it will appear in that list and you can generate potential leads, foster community building, and expand your company’s viral reach.
Marketing with Hashtags
While many people just use hashtags as a way of organizing ideas, you can use them to promote your business, product, or event. Here are a few ways hashtag use on Facebook is opening up new doors for opportunity in the sales and marketing funnel:
1. Cross-Promote Content
While it’s generally recommended that you create fresh content to share on your social networks, it’s now easier than ever to post that content across all the platforms at the same time. Since hashtags now show up on Facebook, you can post content across Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Facebook all at once. This is great for using a consistent, branded hashtag to target your audience across all platforms. Yes, many people have been doing this already, especially by cross-posting from Twitter to Facebook, but the hashtag integration now makes doing so more relevant and powerful.
You can also utilize an employee advocacy platform like VoiceStorm to consolidate and streamline your hashtag marketing. Since VoiceStorm is a hub that allows brand advocates to share content, you can expand your reach exponentially by integrating creative and unique hashtags with your most vocal and active employees. Make your hashtags really go viral by leveraging your most engaged employees and encouraging them to share your branded hashtags.
2. Amplify Your Brand
Thanks to hashtags, you can now amplify your brand on your Facebook page by adding some flair to your posts. You can do this by creating a hashtag that relates to your business, product, or services. This is especially helpful when you want to promote a company event e.g. #MyCompanyJobFair or #MyCompanyHolidaySale.
But it’s also super powerful when you secure ownership of a branded hashtag. For instance, clothing company Threadless uses the hashtag #bigtee to show off individual T-shirt designs. And Starbucks had a lot of success with their #strawsome hashtag earlier this year, where customers were encouraged to share photos of their best straw inspired art. Using a consistent hashtag related to your brand will help amplify your presence and reach.
3. Get Specific With Promotions
Along with creating a hashtag to promote your brand, you can also create hashtags that tie in with specific promotions you’re running. Holding a contest? Create a hashtag that goes along with it. The convenience store 7-Eleven has a good one for Free Slurpee Day, which is on, you guessed it, 7/11. Not only did they use #FreeSlurpeeDay, they also used #SlurpeeDance, which allowed people to connect by sharing videos of themselves performing the Slurpee Dance.
But unlike Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, users can’t enter a contest just by clicking on a branded hashtag on Facebook. Even though Facebook’s promotional rules prevent a company from actually running a hashtag-centric contest, you can still use that hashtag to cross-promote on all the other social platforms.
A Few Pointers
In case you’re not entirely familiar with the hashtag concept, here are a few pointers:
*Hashtags should always be presented as one word–even when they aren’t. So, they should be written out as #employeeadvocacy not #employee advocacy.
*Do some research first. Whether you’re using an existing hashtag or think you’re creating your own, type it in and see what comes up first before you send out any Facebook posts. You don’t want to end up like Entennmann’s who tweeted under the #notguilty hashtag, which unbeknownst to them had to do with the Casey Anthony trial. Or Blackberry, who tried to promote available jobs with the highly unfortunate #RIMjobs hashtag.
*Check your privacy settings. If posting hashtags on a profile (not a page) you need to make sure it’s set to public if you want your profile to appear in hashtag search results. Otherwise, only your friends and fans will be able to see them.
Now that you have a handle on using hashtags for marketing on Facebook, be sure to make mention of the proper guidelines for their use in your social media policy. This will help to clear up any confusion your employees may have and make for a more consistent message across all of your social platforms.