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It’s All About The #Hashtag

You may have noticed your Facebook friends adding a number sign (#) before certain words in their status updates. What’s that about?

These are “Hashtags.” They turn topics and phrases into clickable links within posts, tweets, and updates. Twitter users have been using hashtags since its inception back in 2006. Google+ and Instagram also allow users to attach hashtags to posts, photos and videos, creating a network of content intertwined with a phrase or keyword.

Recently, Facebook users have been known to use hashtags despite serving no functional purpose; maybe to poke fun at their tweeting friends, or simply because they can be a fun addition to a status update. Facebook has taken notice of the feature’s popularity and as of June, 2013 users can now include working hashtags in their posts. The company’s $1 Billion acquisition of Instagram last year may have also played a role in finally allowing the hashtag to breath life into the world’s #1 social media platform.

Using hashtags will help users gain a larger view of what others are talking about.

When users click on a hashtag, they’ll see a feed of posts that have been shared with them, including friends also using that same keyword or phrase. For example, if you share a post with a hashtag with Friends, they can see your post in that hashtag’s feed. If you share a public post, like those shared by Pages, anyone who clicks that hashtag can see your post in that feed. It creates a community of posts around a single phrase.

Businesses Pay Attention!

Companies have jumped at the chance to finally use hashtags on Facebook. Until now, campaigns have fallen short due to the fact that Twitter and Facebook have not exactly synced. For example: McDonald’s runs a campaign across social media to promote their new Fish McBites. They encourage consumers to follow the campaign for deals, photos and more by using the hashtag #FishMcBites on Twitter and Instagram. Where is Facebook? Because of it’s inability to link a hashtag, the #FishMcBites campaign has no footing on a platform with now over 1 billion users. By introducing the feature on Facebook, small and large businesses alike can now run campaigns seamlessly across all major social networking sites.

In simple terms, businesses should now craft status updates on Facebook to include hashtags in order to reach a broader audience.

Tips for using #Hashtags

  • Don’t overuse! Nobody wants to read an entire sentence of hashtags. Simply use one or two hashtags in order to categorize the post.
  • Use hashtags during events. Ex: “Watch the game here! #blackhawks
  • Encourage customers to use hashtags to participate in a promotion. Ex: “Post a photo of your new haircut and use the hashtag #MySalon.”
  • Pay attention to trending topics. Twitter displays trending topics/hashtags so users can see what the world is talking (or tweeting) about. If there is a popular trend that is relevant to your business, capitalize! For example, #SundayFunday is trending in Chicago and you’re offering a promotion that day. Include #SundayFunday in your posts. Now your campaign is included within that trending conversation for thousands of users to see.
  • Use hashtags to find customers. For example, if you’re a real estate agent, you can monitor Facebook and Twitter conversations by searching #homebuying or a similar phrase to see who’s talking about their future purchase.

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