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.