This past week was a pretty big week in the world of social media. First of all, my Facebook account finally updated to the Graph Search version (yay!) and second…and I’m thinking this might be the REALLY big news…Facebook unveiled hashtag (#) capability for real time conversations (BIG yay!)
So what does Facebook’s embracing hashtags mean for small businesses?
I think we need to talk about what hashtags are first before we begin to understand the implications of their use on Facebook.
What are hashtags?
A hashtag is a word or phrase prefixed with the # (pound sign). Hashtags provide a means of grouping phrases or words, so that one can search for the hashtag (#) and get the set of messages that contain that phrase or word within it.
Prior to Facebook’s adaptation of hashtags, Twitter was the social media platform that really introduced and harnassed the power of the hashtag to it’s users. By placing the hashtag in front of a word or phrase, you could easily search for others that were also making use of that word or phrase. This proved extremely valuable when creating lists to target for businesses, when creating “chats” on Twitter on various topics, and just in general to see what might be a trending topic.
Until this week, Facebook was only as good as the number of followers that your business page had. You could post something from your business Facebook Page and hope (if not encourage) your followers to share your post so that your post would be seen by others. Now, by utilizing strategically created hashtags within your Facebook post, you have now allowed for the possibility of countless new viewers if they search for the hashtag that is embedded in your status update.
In other words…
Let’s say you write a blog post on teeth whitening for your dental office and post it to Facebook. In the past, you would post the article to Facebook and your followers would (hopefully) see it. And, if they liked your post, they could help create additional visibility by “liking” the post and “sharing” the post. That done, you now became visible to your follower’s friends. Now, if you post that same article on teeth whitening to Facebook and write a description of the post in your status that includes hashtags such as #dentist #whiteteeth #bleaching #teethwhitening, if anyone in the world does a Facebook search for #whiteteeth, your article will be among the search results.
While I am absolutely head over heals in love with this capability, I know that there is a bit of a learning curve with regards to the creation of effective hashtags. For example. If I use the hashtag #socialmedia each time I post a Social Media DDS article to Facebook, you can imagine how deeply buried my post would be in a search for #socialmedia as this is a very common hashtag phrase. If, however, I were to create the hashtag #socialmediafordentists , I may get fewer search results but, the results would be more focused and, in a perfect world, generate the desired outcome.
So, play with this new feature on Facebook. Create some clever hashtags in your status updates and see who else posted the same hashtags. Also, try to do some hashtag searches. In Facebook’s search bar, type in #socialmedia and see all of the results that pop up. Over time, you can learn to finesse the hashtag words or phrases that you use in your updates to fine tune the results that you are trying to achieve.
If you have any questions about Facebook’s latest (and really fun) feature, send me an email to Claudia@SocialMediaDDS.com and I will be happy to help you! Meanwhile, I’ll see you on Facebook under #socialmediadds .