2 days ago Facebook announced support for the Twitter invented categorization tool called hash tagging or #hashtags in support of Real-Time Public Conversations. Now when you use the “#” symbol in front of any single word or connected word combination, they will now be clickable and will take you to a Hashtag generated Search Page in Facebook (much like a tag or category link in WordPress). (For Example: #wordpress #social #plugins)
With this announcement, we can already see the Facebook Hashtag feature has been incorporated (in limited fashion) into Graph Search and it is fully expected to be a full and active part of Graph Search as it gets fully implemented. This is also expected to be added heavily into Facebook Advertising as another tool for Advertisers to segment and target their Facebook Ads.
Twitter, who created the Hashtag has been using this technology for some time. Google Plus has as well. With the current trend of increasing mainstream use, Facebook needed to implement this technology to keep themselves on top of trending “Public” content. Yes, Public content. The Hashtag feature can be used by friend lists as well though much like is done between fans and followers on Twitter already. Remember, the majority of Facebook content is private, but if you Hashtag content in private conversations you can still search and find it easily with this new feature. I expect this to be used quite a bit in Facebook Groups where content searches can be extremely difficult as well.
Today I did a small test in Facebook via the site here at WPSocial.com and our Facebook Fan Page here: WP Social Facebook Fan Page. I wanted to see how this new worked and I wanted to see the possible implications for Business. What I found is that it has been implemented very well, but it has not been added into the Open Graph API yet and it may never be. Only time will tell.
The first thing I did in my test was add hashtags to the Open Graph Meta Data here at WPSocial.com on a single Product Page. You can test the output of the page yourself by clicking the Facebook Like button on the page here. I then Liked the page on my personal Profile and I then created a Post on the WP Social Facebook Fan Page. Here are the settings I used in the WP Social SEO Booster Pro Plugin and the output which was generated when I posted on Facebook:
As you can see from the picture above, the custom description and hashtags I added to the test page Meta Data here at WP Social (via the SEO Booster Pro Plugin) did absolutely nothing. In fact, when I did a Search in Facebook via all 3 of the Hashtags I tested in the Open Graph Meta Description I did not find anything in reference to my post here. On the other hand, when I did a Search in Facebook using “#hashtag” right after I submitted this post, I was able to see both my Liked posting and the post shown above on the Facebook Graph #Hashtag Search results page.
I also tested their use in Facebook Comments and found they work both on and off of Facebook, making the use of Hashtags even more valuable. See my results in Facebook Commenting here:
Here is how Hashtags are now being used as a part of Facebook Search:
As an example, I also used the SEO Booster Pro to modify my Twitter Card Data for the same product page here at WP Social. Twitter implements hashtags in a very similar way and they do not recognize them inside Twitter Card data either. You can see my example settings in the SEO Booster and my Twitter Post here using the Twitter Product Card:
This is all important to note so when you begin using #hashtags, you don’t go crazy with it. Tons of people already create mountains of Hashtag SPAM on Twitter. Most people who do this do not realize that most of this kind of SPAM is ignored. When you SPAM using Hashtags anywhere you lose credibility and no one is going to click on your offer. If anything, you are going to be Unfriended and Unfollowed a lot. Do not be this guy:
How Should Hashtags Be Used?
Now that you can use this new form of universal tagging of content, implementing a Hashtag strategy for your business can be an essential part of your online marketing and traffic generation plan of action. The most important part of this is setting yourself apart from the rest of the crowd. Start using hashtags which are unique to your business. Don’t get lost in the mess of single popular tags everyone else is using. Yes, you can still hit the main keywords for your business, but it is also important to use Hashtags to Brand your business as well. Use your business name in your hashtag just like we are here at WPSocial.com with #wpsocial. Remember that you can also use word combinations together like #socialmedia as well as single words. Target your hashtags the same way you would target the Keywords on your site. For posts on Facebook I recommend using 1-3 hashtags per post and no more. Focus people to what they are searching for and don’t use a mass SPAM philosophy. Believe me, it does not work. Targeting works.
Use WP Social Tools for Automation
While the Meta Data generated by the SEO Booster is great for SEO and Optimizing your social media signals, it will not help you with Hashtags, but there are WP Social Plugins which will. Remember that in both the Social Review Engine and Social Member Lock you have the ability to to customize the posts generated by Facebook and get posted to User’s Facebook Walls and your own Facebook Fan Pages. Plus, this same capability is coming in the new Social Poster Plugin we are going to be releasing soon. In it you will be able to customize and automatically post to multiple Social Networks and promote a very calculated Hashtag promotion strategy for you and your business.
This is just the beginning. Are you ready?