This week Facebook rolled out clickable hashtags – the ability to search conversations on Facebook and become part of a wider public discussion. Much like Twitter.
At the moment the service is not available to everyone and, like all of Facebook’s features, people will have the ability to set the privacy of their hashtags to Friends, Friends of Friends, Public and Custom.
So what does it mean for charities?
As this is a new feature for Facebook, many charities are choosing to see how others will use it before jumping in themselves. Here is an example of how the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) are using hashtags for their Syria campaign:
Although it is early days for Facebook, hashtags are nothing new. However, I think Facebook hashtags will be highly useful for:
Integrating campaigns – a hashtag is part and parcel of the marketing mix in any campaign. Now, instead of being used just for Twitter and Instagram, you’ll be able to monitor, track and engage with people using that hashtag on Facebook. Facebook adverts for your campaign could include the hashtag, helping to spread your campaign further.
Social TV- think about Paul O’Grady’s For the love of dogs (#pogdogs) for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home on ITV. How many people tweet while they watch the show? Thousands!
According to Thinkbox in a 2012 report, 31% of people have chatted about TV shows or adverts in a second screen but this rose to 56% for 16 to 24 year olds. Now, those people who are not on Twitter will be able to take part in social TV conversations on Facebook. Of course this brings up resource issues (headaches) for charities already struggling with monitoring conversations on Twitter alone.
Targeting – using hashtags will enable you to better target your audience and make it easier for your audience to discover you and your services.
Trending – we all know how Facebook loves to change their Edgerank algorithm (how Facebook calculates where and what posts will show up on your news feed) and just when you think you have it sussed, they change it again…
I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before you will be able to pay for hashtags to trend, much in the way you can pay to promote tweets on Twitter. This will help ensure that your content will show up on your target audience’s news feed.
Have you tested Facebook hashtags yet?