Earlier this month [June, 2013] Facebook announced the use of clickable hashtags. Unless you have never watched television, looked at an ad, or been online in the past year or two or three I’m guessing you already know what a hashtag is. So I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that hashtags are those words that start with the # sign; they look a bit like this… #kkhphotos #photography #hashtags #facebook… you get the idea. Sites like Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest have been using them for years. Even late night talk show hosts include them in their conversations to allow the viewers at home to “talk” to them during the show.
You see them just about everywhere and now you can also see them on Facebook. While catching up on what your friends and your favorite brands are up to, click on the hashtags that they include in their posts and, a new window opens up. This new window shows you more content on that topic. You’ll see all the public [or what you are supposed to see due to privacy settings] discussions that include the tag you clicked on.
Facebook says that in a few weeks we will be able to see popular hashtags with something they are calling “trending topics”. That sounds pretty good to me and seems like another important way to make it easier for others to find your stuff. I’m not talking about sharing your personal information from your personal page here; however if that’s what you’re into… go for it. [but the mother in me says STOP with the personal information already! you don’t need to tell the whole world that right at this moment your house is sitting empty and ready to rob because you just checked into the coffee shop.]
What I’m talking about is embracing public conversations world-wide with over one billion active Facebook users. [that’s something like twice the active users over at Twitter] Now that sounds like a great way for folks like me who eke out a living online to reach even more potential customers, clients, and increase that all important network of like-minded folks. You know; realtime conversations on an international level. Now what kind of brand would pass up an opportunity like that?
OK let’s look at a few ideas to make the most of hashtags for your brand….
- Use hashtags that are related to the topic of your post. That one is easy; if you are talking about softball stickers you don’t want a hashtag for volleyball mugs now do you.
- Don’t use spaces or special characters that will break up the hashtag link. You want to use #softballstickers to sell those stickers because if you use #softball stickers the link will stop after the word softball. That won’t sell many stickers for you now will it.
- Avoid slang words, hard to spell words, and abbreviations that can be confusing. If someone is looking for #softballstickers and you have used the hashtag #sbstickies they are never going to find you.
- Keep your tags short and use what makes sense. #ihavestickerswithyellowsoftballsforsale or #yellowsoftballsonstickersforkidsandteamsandfans don’t work so well.
- Don’t use a ton of hashtags in one post that just looks spammy. Don’t be this guy.. #softballs #yellowsoftballs #stickers #stickersforkids #softballstickers #sports #sportstickers #stickerswithsoftballs #yellowsportsballs #stickersforsoftballplayers #softballphotostickers… nobody likes the spammy guy.
- Join the conversations already started by using popular hashtags. This should be made easier when Facebook gets “trending topics” up and running but for now you can do a few quick searches to see what tags are being used to draw attention to your topic.
- Link your Facebook to your Twitter if you haven’t already done so. You’ll get twice the impact with every hashtag you post.
- Enjoy being even more visible and make use of yet one more FREE marketing tool. You gotta love FREE!
Thanks Facebook; this is one change I like.