How Big Brands Use Hashtags on Facebook, and How You Can, Too

Posted on July 17th 2013

How Big Brands Use Hashtags on Facebook, and How You Can, Too

In June, Facebook announced that status updates could include "clickable" hashtags. Users have been sticking hashtags on Facebook posts for years, but since they weren't clickable, they were sort of insider jokes for their friends and fans. But they've been a popular way for users to track conversations and topics on Twitter, Instagram and Google+ and since social networks often steal popular features from competitors, it wasn't a big surprise to see them make their way to Facebook.

Big brands have been experimenting with hashtags, though we haven't exactly seen a flood of them. Within a month of being able to post clickable hashtags, more than half of the top 100 brands on Facebook had used at least one hashtag in a post, according to analytics company Simply Measured. Simply Measured recently published data that looks at how often some top brands used hashtags on Facebook during those first few weeks:

Here's what they found happened between June 12 and 26, 2013, the first two weeks that hashtags were clickable:

• 56% of the top 100 brands on Facebook used hashtags in a post

• 38% of the top 100 brands on Facebook posted at least two updates with hashtags

• 18% of of the top 100 brands on Facebook posted more than five times using hashtags

 

• 6% of the top 100 brands on Facebook posted more than 10 times using hashtags

Hashtags allow brands to maintain a consistent branding message across multiple platforms. For example, now that Facebook supports them, brands who post a lot of visual content on Instagram or Twitter can make it easy for their followers to see a consistent message across multiple platforms.

The trick is to come up with a hashtag that's relevant to your brand, but that's also unique so your fans can follow along. If you choose a hashtag that's too generic, such as #TGIF, there will be so many posts that your brand's message will probably get lost in the clutter. On the other hand, if you choose something too obscure or complicated no one will bother to use it.

Here's a look at how a couple of big brands are doing a great job using hashtags for marketing purposes. They just might inspire you:

1. Hashtags for Fun: Starbucks' #strawsome

Both Starbucks and its many, many fans are posting photos of drinks with creative straw art on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


2. Hashtags to Desginate a Special Event: 7-Eleven' s #SlurpeeDance

Since some of us just celebrated “Free Slurpee Day,” -- the day (7/11, of course) that the ubiquitous convenience store gives away icy cold beverages -- we thought we'd take a peek at how they used hashtags. As it turns out, they had a ton of fun cross-promoting #SlurpeeDance. Here's a sample of some of the posts from their Facebook Page:


 The brand even created a special website with a dance video featuring YouTube start Nathan Barnatt and then asked users to tag their own photos and videos with the same: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7D8U_ZdtMc

The company also added this banner ad to its website, featuring the hashtag that was ultimately used on Facebook and Twitter, too.

 




3. Use Hashtags to Rally Support: Target's #FeedUSA

Target has teamed up with FEED, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide meals for hungry children and families around the world to market a line of products that range from aprons and reusable bags  and clothing. The proceeds of the Target project benefit the domestic arm of the charity, FeedUSA. Here's a glance at a recent Facebook stream....




And here's what's happening on Target's Twitter page.




Is anyone having success with hashtags on Facebook? I'd love to hear about what you're doing. 

Jim Belosic

Jim Belosic

CEO, ShortStack.com

Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack, a do-it-yourself custom app design tool used to create apps for Facebook Pages, websites and mobile web browsing. ShortStack provides the tools for small businesses, graphic designers, agencies and corporations to create apps with contests and forms, fan gates, product lines and more.  

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Comments

Marketwithmario
Posted on July 17th 2013 at 11:43AM

 

I love the hashtag feature on Facebook because (like you mention) it allows content to be shared on mulitiple platforms and still make sense.  Also, I manage multiple accounts that are local businesses and I am finding that using their city as a hashtags reminds their followers of where they are located and they blend in to local conversations.

Jan Zajac
Posted on July 26th 2013 at 4:29PM

Jim, good post & good data!

We've actually conducted recently a study on use of # by the biggest UK brands and seems that the freqeuency and intensity of usage is growing. The both are both inventing special hashtags as well as using the generic ones or just brand names.

On the other hand, use of hashtags had just a weak impact on posts' engagement and reach - their strength is rather in cross-platform messaging and creating unique # related to campaigns, as you write. We will see soon how hashtags affect content organization and Facebook Search - these effects might be much stronger.

If you were interested in seeing more results, they're here: http://blog.sotrender.com/2013/07/how-the-uk-brands-use-facebook-hashtags/