How Facebook Hashtags Will Affect Advertisers

Aaron Charlie
Aaron Charlie Web Developer/Digital Marketer, Silicon Beach Training

Posted on March 22nd 2013

How Facebook Hashtags Will Affect Advertisers

Facebook hashtagSo yet another bit of news from the social giant: this time it’s that they’re looking into bringing the old Twitter favorite, the hashtag, onto the site. Now, aside from the inevitable onslaught of ‘Twitter vs. Facebook’ rhetoric that will be (and is being) bandied about, this move could be a big deal for the people Facebook loves the most: the advertisers.

Currently, advertising on Facebook can be a bit of a minefield. We at Silicon Beach conducted a survey into views on Facebook advertising and the results are largely quite damning.

We asked ‘Does advertising interfere with your Facebook experience?’ and these were the results:

Facebook Advertising

An overwhelming number of those who responded said advertising interfered at least sometimes.

So would hashtags make any kind of difference to advertising strategies on the site? Would they interfere more or less than current ads? Well, let’s take look at the potential impact.

Paid Promotion of Hashtags

Probably the most obvious (and simple) way in which hashtags could be employed for advertising purposes on Facebook is to promote them in a similar way to the current promoted/sponsored posts.

Say a company is running a competition. They could promote their hashtag, #suchandsuchcomp, in posts that would appear in the newsfeed. How is that different to the current system of paid promotion? Well, clicking on the hashtag will reveal anyone using it in conversation, therefore providing a great tracking feature for advertisers and making it easier for users to find all associated info.

More importantly though, it means being able to tap into a previously untouched group who may not have liked the brand or have friends who like it, without the impersonality of the ‘old’ style promoted post.

Campaigns

This then leads into using hashtags for full campaigns, as happens perpetually on Twitter. With enough user uptake and promotion, combined with a clever strategy and a dash of luck, hashtags could be a great way for brands to improve exposure on Facebook. 

If a hashtag goes viral, it means being exposed to an enormous captive audience that even Twitter can’t boast. The significant word there though is if! The potential impact a successful campaign could have is huge but there also needs to be some thought put in.

There has been significant backlash to sponsored stories and promoted posts and it wouldn’t be too far a stretch to imagine the same happening for promoted hashtag campaigns.

In our survey we asked ‘If a sponsored story annoyed you, what action would you take?’ and these were the results:

Facebook Survey

As you can see 35% of people asked would report an ‘annoying’ sponsored story as spam and another 21% would leave a (presumably negative) comment on the company page or on the post itself. If this active negativity was to transfer into hashtag ads, the concept may not work as well as Facebook might hope.

So is there any other way they could monetize the hashtag element without inviting the same level of disdain as current ads?

Ads on Hashtag Aggregation Pages

This is one possible solution to the problem of negative perception towards ads (although that negative perception has never stopped Facebook before). When a user searches for a hashtag, let’s say #MUFC, they will be directed to a separate page that lists any conversations containing that hashtag. Adverts then could be placed on these pages, and even targeted so that they are relevant to hashtag.

So if someone searches for #MUFC they could find an ad on the aggregation page for a vintage Man. Utd replica shirt seller, or whatever it may be.

At first glance this would appear less invasive and more relevant to the user. The real question is though, if Facebook’s main concern was the user, would they even be considering hashtags? 

The hashtag symbol is also known as the pound symbol in some quarters. That sounds about right for Facebook. 

Aaron Charlie

Aaron Charlie

Web Developer/Digital Marketer, Silicon Beach Training

Aaron Charlie works for Silicon Beach Training who run Social Media Workshops in sunny Brighton. He writes about everything from Social Media to SEO.

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Comments

Ninos Youkhana
Posted on March 30th 2013 at 10:16AM

Aha..Thanks for sharing it. I did not know facebook will use #

joewozny
Posted on April 11th 2013 at 7:15PM

Aaron, shared this with my social networks.  They liked it.  Tx.  

Joe Wozny
Author of The Digital Dollar
www.thedigitaldollar.com

Daniel Krueger
Posted on May 6th 2013 at 12:56PM

Thanks for the survey. I find it interesting that 58%  find advertising annoying and 56% would interact with the message in some aspect; even if it a "negative" interaction.

The hash tags sound interesting, and a unique way to capture interactions. I like the fact that you can track 'ancillary' interactions, by following the conversations by users, even if they don't interact with the campaign.

 Is there anyway to manage hash-tags, what would happen if marketers use the same hash-tag?