Will the Hashtag Enhance Facebook Marketing?

Facebook users should be accustomed to change and they can expect to see some big ones coming to the social networking site in the near future.  Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Graph Search; a new way for users to search for photos, people, interests and places within the social networking site’s database. But wait, there’s more!

Last week, a Wall Street Journal article announced Facebook’s plans to implement another, more familiar, tool to help users organize and search for specific content – the hashtag. Thus creating an even more powerful and efficient Graph Search. The article suggests that Facebook is planning to allow users to index their posts with a hashtag as seen on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr already. Adding this indexing function Facebook may be able to level the playing field for tracking breaking news, live events and trending topics that Twitter has excelled at without competition. Speculation about Facebook’s implementation of the hashtag centers on the question of how Facebook will work with users whose profiles are set to be private. The solution remains to be seen.

What is clear to us here at Caliber is that in the coming months, agencies will learn how to employ these two functions to enhance various PR and marketing efforts.  Here are a few tips to help you start considering how your agency may implement these new functions into your strategy development.

Campaign Cross-Promotion

The most obvious implication is the potential for cross-promotion of hashtag campaigns that have been wildly successful on Twitter, particularly when combined with television advertising. Adding Facebook’s massive network of users to the campaign’s potential reach will likely have an immediate positive impact on the campaign’s results.

Target, Identify and Engage With Influencers in Specific Markets and Communities

As discussed in numerous articles explaining Facebook’s Graph Search, the tool will deliver specific answers to user queries, rather than resources and articles to simply move users towards specific answers (like a web search does).

Communication professionals will be able to use the graph search to identify which Facebook users are influencers in specific communities and markets by closely monitoring the results of searches that target all aspects of the market relevant to their clients. This will increase the efficiency of some public relations research for clients and help identify subject influencers to engage with on behalf of a client.

Hashtags may also help curb the flow of decreasing organic reach many social media strategists are facing due to Facebook’s recent algorithm changes and instead expand a brand’s audience pool based on categorized conversations.

Monitor Dialogue about Client-Related Topics

Hastags can be used to closely monitor dialogue and sentiment about certain topics in the social media realm. The advantage of using hashtags in congruence with graph search is that PR pros will be able to gather detailed insight from the dialogue amongst a new demographic of people; those who use Facebook.

Despite the growing similarities between the two social networks, Facebook and Twitter still remain unique in their services and although there is a certain amount of crossover, Facebook’s large base of users provides a wealth of data that has previously been untapped.  Brands will be able to monitor and evaluate what content and messaging sparks dialogue on each social networking site and further tailor and target client messaging strategies.

‘GSEO’ for Clients

A relatively new term, GSEO refers to Graph Search Engine Optimization that should be closely monitored to identify which search strings yield desired results. If the implementation of the hashtag does in fact coincide with graph search like Tech Crunch predicts, “When clicked from a post in news feed, the hashtag would presumably open a page of Graph Search results of mentions of the hashtag, similar to Twitter.”

The hashtag is not a new concept to PR Pros and even Facebook’s Graph Search should prove be user-friendly, but to use the two together may result in an overabundance of data that will take some strategy to filter through. While both features have yet to be formally implemented into the social networking site, it is not too early to start thinking strategy and how you and your agency can make the most of these new features.

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