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Facebook Hashtags: The New Game Changer - 6/25/2013 -

By Jeff Korhan

I view Facebook as a social network that gives below-average results, but nevertheless has high potential. The recent introduction of Facebook Hashtags will now help you to tap into that potential. Get ready because this changes everything.

Hashtag Basics

Hashtags are clickable and searchable tags that aggregate content. These two qualities allow you to better focus and identify your online content for those who may be searching for it. Many of us became familiar with hashtags through Twitter. But because Twitter is easily searched, the value of hashtags on Twitter is not nearly as powerful as they will be for Facebook.

When Facebook launched the Facebook Like button on April 21, 2010, the intent was to integrate content from across the web with your Facebook friends and page fans. This was accomplished with the Facebook Open Graph, a concept also announced at that time.

We have waited until early this year for Facebook to launch its Graph Search, which presumably allows us to access that data. Unfortunately, this feature has proved to be a shadow of what it can be.Now, Facebook hashtags will change that by giving you the means to make your association much more findable in Facebook search.

Why Facebook Hashtags are Big News

Hashtags allow you to go deeper into the social graphs of those you are digitally aligned with, thereby helping you connect the dots to your association.If you are unfamiliar with social graphs, just know that they are what the social networks use to describe, connect, and align all of us online. (Editorís note: See the Resources section at the end of this article for additional resources to better understand this important concept.)

Social graphs largely determine who gets to see what your organization shares on Facebook. They act like filters, keeping those fans that you are better connected with closer to you, and therefore more likely to see your content in their Facebook newsfeed.

For example, when you make a new friend on Facebook, you are often asked if you know them outside of Facebook. If you click "yes", you are telling Facebook that you are indeed closely connected. If you do not respond either way, Facebook will make its own decision based on your respective activities, such as sharing, liking, and making comments on each other's content.

Business marketers use Facebook advertising (and promoted posts on your personal profile) to extend the reach of their content beyond the normal Facebook filters. Facebook hashtags will now allow you do what advertising does ó extend your reach ó and it is all free.

How to Use Facebook Hashtags

Hashtags are nothing more than essential keywords. To use them well, you will have to put on your SEO hat.

When you make a post on Facebook, you will typically include a short message and probably a link to outside content. After that, you can include searchable hashtags to make it more easily discoverable. Here are some hashtags I'm considering to show you how this works.

∑ #builtinsocial

∑ #socialsmallbusiness

∑ #socialmarketing

∑ #socialmediatips

The first hashtag is the title of my book, so its use is primarily for my purposes. For you, this could be your business name or one of your products. The others are tags that I believe others may be using to search for the type of content that I am typically sharing on my Facebook page. (Note that hashtags start with the # sign and have no spaces).

So, you want to start thinking about the hashtag keywords that will engage current members or attract new members to your associationís content. Here are some ideas for determining which words to consider for your hashtags:

1. To help prospective members discover your online content.

2. To amplify your expertise.

3. To build deeper relationships with members and colleagues.

4. To promote offers or special events.

I've tempered my excitement about the future of this powerful update. So, here goes: Wow! Finally! Let's get serious about Facebook marketing!

Like anything else, it will take some time for this to start generating results for your organization. So, just get started using hashtags now (even if you do not yet have this feature that is still rolling out). You will be so glad you did.

Resources for Learning More

What Your Business Needs to Know About Social Graphs is a comprehensive article that will help you understand more about social graphs, the Facebook Open Graph, and social search in general.

3 Facebook Hashtag Marketing Tips is a new article that will help you make the most of Facebook Hashtags, while also avoiding the pitfalls.

How The Social Web Works is the first chapter in my new book, and you can download it (for free) from that link. My belief is if you read Chapter One you will want to learn more about The Social Marketing Process and how the social web really works, which is the foundation of the book: Built-In Social.

Jeff Korhan, MBA, is a professional speaker, trainer, and coach who helps organizations use digital marketing to create exceptional customer experiences. 


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