When it comes to using hashtags correctly on Facebook to fulfill the criteria of increasing brand awareness you´re on dodgy ground.

They are like chalk & cheese versus their use on Twitter and Instagram, but they have a unique function and brands need to take special care when using them.

Unless people know the hashtag to look for, they are unlikely to stumble across it on Facebook, unlike Twitter. Why?

A page using a # is open to the public, so yes they are searchable within Facebook and physically bookmarked under that hashtag.  BUT if a profile uses the # in their post, the visibility is restricted based on their personal settings.

This is also the same reason as to why post shares cannot be classed as a competition entry as per Facebooks own Terms and Conditions and specifically in relation to The Pages Policy

Do they help with performance? Yes but not for the reasons you think

Being consistent across platforms is uber important for branding, which may include a hashtag, so if you’re using Instagram and Twitter then yes of course throw that hashtag in for added value, thumb stopping content.

But don’t expect it to catch on on Facebook alone, and don’t ask fans to use the hashtag so you can find their photos for example, for the privacy setting reason as stated above as per competition entries.

If your audience are socially savvy then it will aid conversations if they too use your hashtag, although you must ask them to keep their posts PUBLIC in order to stand a chance of finding the hashtag. Better still ask hem to @mention your page.

Ask fans use your branded #hashtag by all means to help spread the word, but not for being found by searching said hashtag.

Hashtags can help on Facebook to build conversations just a little but certainly not a lot, because of the selectivity of which ones can be shown. As such they have very little impact for marketing purposes.

If you think a # on Facebook will generate a shed load of user generated content then think again, as unless their posts are public they will not appear in search.

You can try it in search yourself. Let’s use Redbull’s #givesyouwings as the example.

If you add that to Facebook search and select photos as per the screen shot, you’ll see that none of my friends have used it, so it’s not going to have any social endorsement factor for me.

Let’s try another example and use the same word with and without a hashtag. Lets use the word paint v #paint. Looking at the two screenshots, and having selected the tab post,  you’ll see that with the first one using #paint is from a friend from 2016 – so that’s not exactly rocking and rolling from a brand awareness perspective. No #hashtag however gives me a very rich supply of pages that have used the word that I or my friends have interacted with.

How can you use hashtags on Facebook for best results for reach and engagement?

  1. In sentences for eye-catching, thumb-stopping quality, rather than blocked together at the end, as it’s more visually appealing. Try using your own brand key words to punctuate like #CyberGran, but don’t overdo it. Go for 3 max, but bear in mind that maximum engagement has been shown with ONE hashtag (read more here from postplanner on hashtag numbers)
  2. When @mentioning a brand, especially if you can’t seem to tag/mention them use their hashtag
  3. Comic value. #justsayin for example or #itwasntme always add value to a post and can generate comments and conversation. Plus visually they draw the eye – no one can resist a bit of blue in the sea of black & white text
  4. Use relevant hashtags which might sound bleedin obvious, but hijacking a hashtag and throwing it in there because it is a trending topic will devalue your content. Unless of course you are Marks & Spencers who managed to pull off a really great hijack, by sharing a photo of their beer collection and suggesting you may want to purchase them to drink whilst watching the #6Nations – which happens to be the best sporting event of the year!
  5. Keep it simple and use one or a few hashtags that fans can understand and remember. Trying to be too fancy and clever doesn’t work AND make sure no one else is using that hashtag for another purpose and make sure it reads well or at the very least add capitals at the beginning of each word. The people who owned the business with the hashtag #childrenslaughterhouse certainly didn’t check how it looked (try it now —> #ChildrensLaughterHouse, but I bet you read Children Slaughter House first time)

Of course it’s important to take every opportunity to create a touch point and hashtags can do just that, but on Facebook they are not the be all and end all … for now

For further ‘from the horses mouth’ advice check out Facebook’s own policy which hasn’t actually been update since 2016 – Using Hashtags on Facebook

If you’re missing out on opportunities to connect with your target audience and would like some focusses & structured support for your business activity on Facebook, then get in contact today fiona@fioancatchpowle.com

Alternatively catch me live at the following workshop in London — CLICK HERE

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