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Incredibly Useful Facebook Hashtag Q&A For Small Businesses

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Last week, Facebook announced its rollout of clickable hashtags. Did you scrunch up your nose at this news — perhaps because you have no idea how to use hashtags? If so, try this tutorial. Once you learn how hashtags can help your marketing on Facebook, that scrunched nose of yours will turn into a proud, rockin’ fist pump.

Q: What are hashtags?
A: Hashtags are words or phrases that begin with the # symbol. Here in the U.S., we call it a pound sign, but outside our borders it’s called a hash sign. The hash sign is then proceeded by one or more words. Say you want to make a hashtag about crossword puzzles: you can use #crosswords or #crosswordpuzzles. Note that the hashtag about “crossword puzzles” is made without spaces.

The hash sign can also come before an acronym. During the month of July, I often use the #TdF hashtag — that stands for Tour de France.

Q: Why do people use hashtags? 
A: Hashtags are used to emphasize keywords or add parenthetical remarks. Let me give you some examples from my Twitter account. (Twitter has been using hashtags since 2007.)

I tweeted this tip on how to use the Website bitly.com for competitive intelligence. As a parenthetical remark, I used the hashtag #sneaky.

On April 15, 2013, I was in San Francisco — miles away from my home in Boston during the marathon bombings. To show solidarity with my fellow Bostonians, I used the hashtag #bostonstrong.

As a businesswoman, I use hashtags to be discovered by others. For example, I put together a free publicity resource for authors. When I tweeted about it, I used the hashtag #authors so that writers who search Twitter for that hashtag will find my tweet.

Q: Why did Facebook make hashtags clickable?
A: When Facebook launched clickable hashtags this month, it introduced them as public conversations. Public conversations is really the perfect way to describe using hashtags on any social channel. For example, my use of #bostonstrong and #authors allowed me to be a part of a larger conversation about a particular theme.

Q: What should my business do with Facebook hashtags?
A: Start by applying what I did in the above #authors tweet to your next Facebook post. If you’re a gluten-free bakery, you may wish to use the hashtag #glutenfree. You can write something like “We’re ready to make two amazing #glutenfree wedding cakes for this weekend.” Or add the hashtag at the end of your post: “We’re ready to make two amazing wedding cakes for this weekend. #glutenfree” Where you put the hashtag is really a matter of personal preference.

Regardless of the hashtag location, your tagged post will now appear whenever one of the hundreds of thousands of wheat-free Facebook users searches for #glutenfree. Think about it: Your hashtagged posts will not only reach your Facebook fans, but they’ll also reach *potential fans and customers* who are interested in what you offer.

If you are this bakery, you should also be regularly searching on #glutenfree: here’s the link of the most recent posts using this hashtag.

Take a moment to reflect on what you see in this stream of posts. What treats do Facebook users love to post photos of? If you see a pattern, consider posting some of those treats. (There can never be too many croissant photos on Facebook.) Search the hashtag to find out what gluten-free foods are difficult for users to make — if your bakery carries those items, write posts about them using #glutenfree.

And use the hashtag to see what competing bakeries are up to on Facebook! It’s a great way to stay on top of things without becoming a fan of their page.

Do you have additional questions about using hashtags in your Facebook marketing? Ask me in the comments section!

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  1. #Facebook Now Supports Hashtags - C. Blohm & Associates - Visibility Matters - [...] how to approach hashtags? This hashtag-specific Q&A can lend some great insight. [...]

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