3 Facebook Hashtag Marketing Tips

2013.6.13 hashtags

The newly launched Facebook hashtags could prove to be the savior of Graph Search – the recently launched Facebook search feature.

Graph Search does what it promises – returning search results based on the social graphs of your Facebook friends, fans, and followers. This means that you tend to see search results only for those friends and businesses with whom you are already closely aligned.

If you happen to be using Facebook for outreach and marketing, the new hashtag feature will extend your reach dramatically. This will create both risks and rewards, so you will want to choose your hashtags with care.

 #1 – Avoid Desperation Marketing

What I am already noticing are Facebook posts that include a rash of hashtags. As expected, the inevitable hashtag spam has just begun. We have not seen this with Twitter hashtags because the 140 character limitation keeps it in check.

 One example of Facebook hashtag spam

One example of Facebook hashtag spam

This is just one more example of desperation marketing. We are already familiar with this in its many forms. These include:

  • Sensationalized headlines
  • All caps and excessive use of exclamation points
  • Controversy and false claims

Now add a truckload of hashtags to that and you have a real mess that is sure to annoy those that you presumably most want to engage and inspire to action.

Smart businesses know that desperation marketing only serves to repel potential buyers.

When you use dozens of hashtags you tell the Facebook search engine that your post has no focus. So, all you are really doing is spamming your friends and fans.

Don’t do it.

#2 – Hashtags Are Keyword Tags – Use Them Well

Given that the effectiveness of Facebook search is marginal at best, hashtags can be quite useful for tracking your content. However, this isn’t going to work if you are using broad keyword phrases – such as #smallbusiness.

A broad keyword tag or hashtag is the same as none at all. As we all know, saying “one size fits all” means it doesn’t fit anyone well.

Use a hashtag that is personal to you, such as your business name. One that I’ve been using lately is #builtinsocial, which happens to be the title of my new book.

When I search for the hashtag #builtinsocial I’m confident the results I receive will for the most part be mine and mine only. That should be your objective.

Think of your hashtag as a link to you, your business, or one of its products or services. To accomplish that, you have to be specific.

Also consider that using broad category hashtags aggregates your content with everyone else that uses it (to the extent that your privacy settings allow), a practice that will likely align you with hashtag spammers.

Is that what you want?

#3 The Best Marketing is Specific

Mass marketing may work well for big consumer brands, but not for your small and probably local business.

If you really want to use hashtags well, use them to create alignment with a highly targeted group. This is why location hashtags will prove to be especially popular for local small businesses.

Think of your hashtags as the language of your desired community. If there are specific words or phrases that speak to your community, those words as hashtags will serve as markers that will rise to the surface in Facebook conversations.

You can also coin your own hashtag keywords and use them to brand your business.

The introduction of hashtags on Facebook, a site that is frequented by many that are not necessarily social media savvy, is sure to bring their use into the mainstream.

So, get ready for what may prove to be a game-changer for Facebook marketing.

Apply these 3 hashtag tips to your Facebook marketing and you are sure to notice favorable results.

Update: The discussion on this has been raging on Facebook. Thus far, we’ve confirmed that hashtags work on posts, with photos, and with some – but not all comments.  We will not know all the facts until this completely rolls out. Also, your privacy settings prevail, with hashtags aggregating content within that sphere of influence to other content using the same tag.

Leave a comment below if you have questions or ideas to share.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – Just Released April 2013 (Wiley)

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  1. Jeff,
    What would be good examples of local small business use of hashtags? Would you include the geographical location? For example: #Raleigh #Landscaper #Landscaping #Landscaping Tips #Pruning #HedgeTrimming

    What would you have done?

    • HI David – Experiment and consider what you are using now.

      The idea is if one like #landscapingtips is regularly used, it will qggregate those tips so that when someone finds one that are instantly connected to all of the others with just one click.

      While you could connect ALL of your posting with #landscaping, I’m not sure if I see the value in that.

      Other ideas are product or business lines like #lawncare

      How about: #raleighlandscapetips or #landscapetipsraleigh

      Use something that you could refer your clients to when speaking to them in person – and that they could remember, so that they can go to Facebook and do that search – or refer it to a friend.

      What I foresee is many of us will try to OWN one, two, or three hashtags -again, for branding purposes.

      Does this help?

  2. Great tips, Jeff! Hashtags are helpful when used properly!

  3. Hashtags can really help businesses with marketing and it has been proven on Twitter with the Hashtags trending and spreading awareness of the company. Now that the Hashtags are incorporated onto Facebook one can imagine how important they are. The Right Use of Hashtags is really important and this article guides well. Companies using Hashtags on Twitter can use the popular ones on Facebook too.

  4. How do you think Facebook hashtags stack up against Google+ hashtags?

    • Russ- You’ll find hashtags to be relevant on every site, and probably working quite seamlessly on Google+ (as they do on Twitter).

      The real value for hashtags on Facebook is giving you reach beyond what EdgeRank normally allows. So, in that regard they should prove to be quite valuable.

      This is still a waiting game to see how well they will work with Graph Search. I’m using them myself, but still with mixed results.

      Thanks for your comment.

  5. Following in the footsteps of Twitter, Facebook has adopted the #tag. This will help business owners to create targeted campaigns for certain keywords. Thanks for sharing an informative article.

  6. I completely agree with the points you made about desperation marketing; however, I wonder if all potential consumers will perceive the use of multiple hashtags in the same way. Now that Facebook has incorporated this feature, it has become more relevant for users to link their Twitter and Instagram feeds as well. Instagram does not have the 140 character limit that Twitter does. I have noticed a few interesting techniques businesses have used to brand themselves and get a much greater reach with their posts. They do so by posting their initial caption or description with 1-3 brand building hashtags followed by a separate post in a running comment with a variation of more generalized hashtags. This does not make the post feel spammy, yet gives it much greater reach. It will be interesting to see if this works on Facebook as well.

    • I agree Taylor – using different tags makes complete sense for the purpose of connecting with different audiences – and of course for internal reasons.

      As you noted, the nice thing about that is your posts do not have that robotic quality that giving them the same hashtags again and again creates.

      It’s going to be interesting and fund to watch how this plays out. 🙂

  7. Jeff, good article! Thanks!
    Do you think that this desperation marketing is frequent? Our data shows not really, and brands are trying to use they own specific hashtags, as they were following your advice 😉
    More on our study on this issue can be found on http://blog.sotrender.com/2013/07/how-the-uk-brands-use-facebook-hashtags/

  8. thx for the great article. First hastags, then graph search. what is coming next?

  9. Hashtag is twitter not facebook to me.. I don’t like it!

  10. Great article, Jeff! I bought your book: #builtinsocial and am finding out that I had no idea that I have no idea. I’m wondering where hashtags are considered most effective: in blog posts? Twitter comments? Facebook? Was use of a hashtag within this post appropriate? Effective? Help!


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